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What to eat while running

Updated on March 7, 2007

Consuming healthy food is as important as exercising when training to run as race. What you eat is so important because it is what is used to fuel your running- good fuel in equals better running, bad fuel in equals bad runs, it is that simple. Below are the three major areas to focus on when deciding your diet:

Training

When you first start your training your energy requirements increase, and each time you increase your running they will increase, this means you will be hungry, sometimes ravenously hungry after a run. It is very important to re-fuel, and not deny your body food, and it is just as important to put the right fuel into your body. Some people who are running are trying to lose weight and thus are dieting at the same time, this is ok to a point, but deny your body fuel will only slow your metabolism and hurt both your effort to lose weight and your running in the long run. Instead choose healthy foods rather than nothing at all, snacks like nuts and fruit will keep your metabolism up and weight down. Make sure you are giving your body the best fuel possible, lean meats, vegetable, and granola are a great way to re-fuel and the high level of protein will fill you up. Successful re-fueling in running comes from lots of small meals rather than large ones, trying snacking on fruit and nuts throughout the day, and eating smaller amounts at mealtime.

Pre-Race

Carbohydrates are particularly important the night before your race, and even before your long runs or walks leading up to your race. That's one reason why a lot of endurance races offer "pasta parties" the night before. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids the day before the race, but stay away from diuretics that contain alcohol or caffeine. It's also a good idea to top off your fuel tank with a healthy snack before going to bed. You also might consider rising early on race day so you can have a light, pre-race meal. Toast or a bagel with peanut butter, or some granola is a great way to fuel up.

During-Race

For all runs it is important top stay hydrated. Drinking on the run is a science, and so you need to practice. Try drinking water this during your training runs, particularly your long training runs. For longer runs re-fueling is also going to be important, try out some of the power bars and power gels that are on the market right now, they might not take taste the best but they are designed to be easily and quickly digested while running. Also try granola bars, nuts, or fruit. Try out eating on practice runs to see how your body reacts to different foods and than pick which is right for you.

Port-Race

It is important to re-fuel after a race to prevent injury, and keep your going. Often things such as banana, oranges, and pretzels are offered, take advantage of these, along with having a carb and protein filled meal once you've given your body a chance to relax after the race.

Hydration is one of the most important things, it keeps your body functioning and healthy. Most of us don't drink enough water throughout the day. Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk or wherever you are during the day to keep a steady flow of water going into your body. The better hydrated you are, the easier it is for your body to maintain its daily metabolic, cell-repair, and immune system functions.

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