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Eating the right food and eating at the right time can improve your cardiovascular performance whether you run around the block, 5k’s, or marathons. What you eat and drink before, during, and after runs is critical to feeling good, picking up your pace, and recovering within the proper timeframe.
Think of your diet as a vital part of your exercise regimen. This will optimize your runs and allow your muscular system to recover and adapt successfully. Here are 5 tips for eating before your next run.
FOR EASY-PACED RUNNING (4 MILES OR LESS)
Skip your pre-run meal. If it is just a few miles that you are going to tackle, then consider skipping a meal before your run. Your body will have enough glycogen, which is your body’s most readily accessible form of fuel, to get you through to the end. Make sure you drink 8 ounces of water prior to your run, especially if you are doing this first thing in the morning because we wake up dehydrated.
BEFORE A 4+ MILE RUN OR SPEED TRAINING
Eat 50 – 60 grams of complex carbohydrates 1.5 – 2 hours prior to your run. This will give your body the appropriate amount of time it needs to digest and absorb the nutrients.
FOR RUNS OF 1+ HOURS
Sip on an electrolyte drink during the run. Electrolytes, primarily sodium and potassium, aid your muscular system in retaining fluid, receiving oxygen and functioning properly. Getting these electrolytes in fluid form rather than in solid foods aids in getting them to your muscular system faster.
FOR TEMPO WORKOUTS OR SPRINT INTERVALS
Eat a heavy dose of carbohydrates the night before the workout. Dinners that include whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, or quinoa balanced with protein and vegetables are essential for optimizing your glycogen levels. These meals are essential for high-intensity workouts no matter the distance.
FOR 90+ MINUTES
Consume 25 grams of carbohydrates every 25 – 30 minutes. The muscular system can store enough glycogen to fuel approximately an hour-long run. Anything greater than that requires 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Your brain figures out that you are lowering your glycogen stores before your muscles do and starts to slow your body down as a precaution. The best form of getting these carbohydrates is from sports drinks or bars to maintain your intensity. Eating early and often allows your body to maintain an optimized flow of nutrients.