Long distance is one of the most taxing sports in the world. You’ll be running at a gruelling pace for a distance longer than most people would ever consider tackling. Despite all of your training and race preparation, you can’t expect to be your best without good nutrition. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips any distance athlete should keep in mind.
For runners, carbs are king. Your diet should consist of roughly 60% carbs but these should be wholemeal, grains and low fibre fruits and vegetables. Before you actually compete in a run, ditch high fibre and more complex grains as they can cause bloating and digestion problems during the race. Here’s a list of top 10 carbohydrate sources for runners.
Protein is the building block of the human body in that it builds muscle. While lots of runners know and understand protein, many eschew it in favour of carbs or undervalue its importance. However, protein is an essential nutrient to get in your body when you’re training for long distance as it helps repair your muscles.
Lean beef, tofu, Quorn, chicken, turkey and fish are all fantastic sources of protein. You can get protein from foods that contain good fats such as nuts. If you’re struggling to get protein in your diet, you can always invest in whey protein powder from Maxinutrition which can be consumed straight after training to aid recovery. Avoid meats high in saturated fat such as non-lean beef and pork.
Fats are a hugely beneficial element of nutrition that are often misunderstood. The fats which are bad for you are saturated fats, contained in foots such as butter, cheese and fried food. Good fats help hormone production and cell membrane structure. They should compose 30% or less of your diet and can be gotten from oily fish, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and nuts such as almonds.
Before a race you need to tailor your diet to the demands of distance. Don’t consume caffeine before a race as it can affect your stomach. Instead, fuel up on water as it fills glycogen stores (where you get energy from).
On the morning of a long race, fuel up with simple foods that aren’t packed with fibre that you’re used to so it won’t adversely affect your stomach. White bread, which is usually off-limits for the health conscious, is a good idea as it is a refined carb so easier to digest.