Fuel Your Park Run – (Fitbit)
A HANDY GUIDE TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR PARKRUN.
Planning to parkrun and take part in the Fitbit Step Challenge? How to eat to perform your best is a commonly asked question. As you’ve heard countless times, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
With park runs typically being early morning, having a proper breakfast is key to your sporting performance.
WHAT TO EAT AND WHEN?
What to eat before your run, when to eat it, how much to eat and how all this effects your energy levels and overall performance is worth knowing.
Never introduce new food or drink into your diet the day before a run, be sensible and eat foods you are familiar with.
‘Good’ nutrition should be an ongoing part of your training, not something you start the day prior to running or competing. Eating a light meal two to three hours before your run to supply your body with ample nutrients and time to digest, allowing your tummy to feel comfortable. Your diet should enable you to train hard, recover effectively and achieve your potential goals.
MORNING OF THE PARKRUN
Eat a healthy breakfast of ~400-600 calories.
Top up your energy stores with familiar foods and without eating something that will feel heavy in your stomach. For example:
Porridge/ Instant oats/ cold cereal with low-fat milk
Half a bagel or breakfast muffin and some low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese.
Fruit salad with low-fat greek yoghurt
Multi grain bread with scrambled egg
Drink water – staying hydrated is crucial.
Avoid fatty foods – these can sit heavy in your stomach as fats take longer to digest, making you feel nauseated, full, or sluggish.
Coffee – Only if you normally have a morning coffee. Caffeine can stimulate and improve athletic performance by increasing alertness during your run, but beware: it can also stimulate your digestive tract.
THE SCIENCE BIT
Carbohydrates are the body primary fuel source and should form a significant part of your diet, with endurance athletes requiring high amounts of carbohydrates to saturate their muscles with glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate (also stored as glycogen in the liver).
Glycogen stores are relatively small so require topping up as low glycogen stores may result in fatigue and effect sporting performance. Rough estimate requirements 7-10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (5-7g/kg body weight for general training <1hr low intensity, 7-10g/kg body weight 1-3 hr moderate to high intensity training) during training and closer to the high end of this range prior to long runs.
A TRAINING DIET WOULD CONSIST OF:
carbohydrates from a quality source (wholegrain breads, cereals, grains and pasta)
moderate amount of protein
small amount of fats (oily fish, poly and mono unsaturated fats and oils)
plenty of vegetables and some fruit
Due to the stress of exercise, the body produces reactive oxygen species, paying attention to anti-oxidant intake equips the body’s cells with enzymes to protect against damaged caused by free radicals. Anti-oxidants from green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, whole grains, meats, seafoods and certified breakfast cereals help provide the body with plenty of minerals and vitamins (vitamin A, C, D and E).
FAT IS ESSENTIAL
Runners should also include sources of essential fats in their daily diet as they cannot be made in the body. Aiming for at least two servings oily fish (mackerel, salmon, fresh tuna, sardines etc) per week, eating nuts (~7 walnuts, ~14 almonds) and seed (1-2 dessert spoons of mixed seeds or 1-2 tbsp seed oil per day).
Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, a potent anti-inflammatory which some research suggests this may help alleviate muscle soreness and boost immunity.
HOW SHOULD YOU TIME YOUR MEAL BEFORE YOUR RUN?
Eating prior to exercise differs depending on the individual and how food sits in ones stomach, at times it can be tricky to manage timings effectively.
For those individuals with sensitive stomachs, getting nutrition in can be achieve with the use of smoothies and liquids. Generally allowing one to four hours for food to be digested prior to exercise is suggested.
Runners should consume between 400 and 800 kcal worth of foods rich in carbohydrate, low in fat, and with moderate protein content for example a breakfast cereal with fruit and low fat milk or a whole grain bagel with tomato and low-fat cheese.
POST PARKRUN CAKE?
Post run, consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein within a 30 minutes and up to 2 hours finishing is suggested to be the best way to help your body recover.
Aiming for a 3:1 ratio of carb to protein this combination of nutrients helps replenish muscle glycogen stores, if too much protein is consumed it may potentially inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates by slowing gastric emptying, however a little protein is essential to repair/ build muscle.
POST PARK RUN SNACK EXAMPLES INCLUDE:
A banana and dried fruits are good immediate following a race then
Bagel with peanut butter and fruit juice
Sandwich (tuna, turkey or egg)
½ cup plain yoghurt and 1 cup mixed fruit
Grilled chicken salad with avocado