What Should Runners Eat And Drink During Training?


Running Training

Carbs provide the body’s supply of glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles and is the fuel that powers your running.

Carbs provide the body’s supply of glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles and is the fuel that powers your running.

Since only a limited amount can be stored, supplies need to be constantly replenished. Too little dietary carbohydrate, and you will find yourself running low on energy. Research studies have shown that exercising with depleted glycogen stores can result in reduced performance, greater fatigue and suppressed immunity. Ensure that you have a healthy serving of carbohydrate at every meal, along with carb-rich snacks such as bananas, dried fruit, raisin toast or oatcakes.

A level of 2 per cent dehydration will result in a significant decline in performance. To prove the point, cyclists in a study from the University of Texas performed 6 per cent better during an hour ride when drinking water, compared to drinking nothing.

On runs that last more than 60 minutes, or very intense runs from 45 to 60 minutes long, opt for isotonic sports drinks rather than water. There is conclusive evidence that you’ll be able to maintain the same level of intensity for longer by topping up blood glucose with one of these carbohydrate drinks.

Make sure that you have something that ‘agrees’ with you, as the jolting action of running can make your stomach feel distended and uncomfortable. You may want to opt for a sports drink or energy gel, rather than something heavier.

This is particularly important if you are training the next day. Studies have shown that the post-run half hour is the perfect ‘window’ to allow maximum absorption of carbohydrate. Wait until you’ve showered and stretched, however, and that window will have closed. Foods which are moderate to high on the glycaemic index will work fastest.

Aim to eat 1g of carbohydrate for every kilogram (0.45g per pound) of your bodyweight to optimise refuelling, and take some protein on board with your carbs for maximum benefit. For example, try yogurt and banana, toast and peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie.

Born to Run: Carrie Tollefson

MetCon for the Masses