Wanting to learn more about sports nutrition, I decided to pick the brains of my running-est friends. Michelle and her husband have completed numerous marathons, an ultra marathon, and the Goofy Challenge (half marathon on Saturday, then marathon on Sunday in Disney World). Michelle was actually my pace group leader when I trained for my first half marathon. She has gone on to instruct a number of other running clinics. Below are her best tips.
Thanks, Michelle, for sharing your words of wisdom!
When I was first asked to do a guest post on sports nutrition, I have to admit my first thought was “What do I know about that?” After careful reflection, I realized that over time by running several marathons (and even a 50K Ultra Marathon!), being a running instructor and pacing runners that yes, I did know a bit about sports nutrition!
Here are some tips that I have picked up over time that I hope you find helpful as well:
1. Take note of what works and doesn't work for you to help you develop an exercise food routine. By developing a nutritional plan well before an event you will be better prepared and be reassured that you won’t have any unexpected reactions. I learned this the hard way by eating way too much before an event and was concentrating on where the closest porta potty instead of on the race!
2. Once you have established what works for you, don't deviate from your established plan. That means nothing new! If you trained eating bananas during a run keep eating them during your event! Knowing what works for you during exercise comes with trying things out well BEFORE your event. This way you won't have any unexpected gastro-intestinal issues that are likely to slow you down.
3. Another washroom avoiding tip: Too much fiber before a workout will make you have to go to the washroom so beware of how much you consume!
4. Use a sports type drink that will replenish your electrolytes. In running, my rule of thumb is to start using these after 10kms. But, test it out and see what works best for you. You'll know if you should have used them if you feel especially tired or sluggish post-run. To avoid this be especially conscious of the temperature outside. If it's hot out, you'll need to replenish your electrolytes at a faster rate due to sweating. Taking them ahead of schedule is a good way to avoid the negative effects that can come with the loss of electrolytes.
5. After approximately 15km’s (running), you will want to add a source of nutrition while doing exercise. This can come in many forms, including, but not limited to: sports beans, shot blok’s, energy balls ect...There are many to choose from and again the idea is to test them well before an event so that you can avoid any surprises (see above tip).
6. Have some sort of protein within 30 mins of a workout. It will help you rebuild your muscles. Chocolate milk is an excellent option. There are post run drinks available but keep in mind they are often loaded with non-essential chemicals and additives. They also cost a lot!
7. Nuts, raisins and oatmeal are great pre-workout foods as they include complex carbs. If you can, try to get steel cut oats (they are often in the health food section of the grocery aisle). They are the best kind as they contain the whole grain and will break down at a slower rate and will give you more energy as you workout.
8. Keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you. While it's fine to enjoy these on oaccasion, it is especially important to limit or eliminate these before an event. A good rule of thumb is to limit alcohol a week before an event and caffeine a few days before. Drinking additional water before an event will also help you avoid dehydration.
9. Find a go-to-website for learning more about nutrition and exercise. I like Heather Moxley’s site as she includes many articles about nutrition and many healthy recipes (including one for energy balls).
What sites do you enjoy to gain more nutritional information?
What are your nutritional tips for when you exercise?