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Read our latest blog: "Four pre-race fueling tips" 

Fueling

To run well, you need to eat and drink well, but what does that really mean? It’s important for runners to be eating well ALL the time to give them the energy for regular running, however there are some times when particular foods and fluids are essential.

Carbohydrate

This gives us the vital energy we need to run, without adequate intake you can end up “hitting the wall” and run out of energy. We need carbohydrate before we run to top up our energy stores, ideally this should be eaten 2-4 hours before a session/race, and should be easy to digest, familiar and low fibre. Some examples include breakfast cereal and milk, toast with jam or honey, or fruit salad with yoghurt. If you have an early start, then 1-2 hours before you commence running have a smoothie, sports bar, yoghurt or some fruit. Carbohydrate stores need to be topped up during a race or session if you are running for longer than 90 minutes, this is where gels and sports drinks come in handy. Refuelling after a long session or race is vitally important especially if you are training again the next day, so aim to consume a CHO snack within 30 minutes of finishing your run.

Protein

It is important for muscle building and repair and also for energy. Most Australians meet their daily requirement easily. The most important time to eat protein for runners is during recovery. Your post-run snack/meal should include a ratio of 50g CHO to 10g Protein, some examples include – 1 banana and a tub of yoghurt, 250g baked beans+ 2 slices of toast, meat and salad roll + fruit. If you run later at night, try and eat dinner as soon as possible after your run and if you run after dinner, have supper when you get home, a glass of milk, fruit and yoghurt, or a sandwich. Expensive protein powders are not necessary for runners, if you are trying to make sure you meet your protein needs, include foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes and dairy foods in your daily diet.

Fluid

Without adequate fluid intake before, during and after a run, you become dehydrated, which makes running feel even harder and will result in poor performance. So here are a few tips to ensure you are well hydrated for training and race day:

  • Try and maintain clear urine the day before a race or long running session
  • Drink 300-400mls 30 minutes before the race or a long session.
  • Avoid caffeine, which will dehydrate you.
  • Aim to drink early in the race to maintain hydration
  • Consume approximately 150-300mls fluid every 15-20 minutes
Sports drinks

They are designed to provide the right balance of CHO, electrolytes and fluid, however tend to be overused. They are useful for longer training/races, in hot temperatures or if you are someone who dehydrates easily.

Everybody is different, so listen to your body and practice fluid and food strategies in training. Your main aim is to start each session or race well fuelled and hydrated, to help maximise your performance, assist in recovery and ultimately meet your goals.