Jenny Nakamura writes the Runny-Legs, Burnt Toast blog where she shares her experiences running everything from 5K's to 50 milers. Here she shares her pre & post run nutrition tips with us.
By Jenny Nakamura of Runny-Legs.com
One of the things that some runners (myself included) struggle with is what to eat before and after a run. For shorter runs, you might not need much; however, for longer runs, it’s a different story.
To start, I want to mention that I am not a nutritionist, dietician or medical professional - these are just my opinions based on my experiences over the years. If you have specific dietary questions, please contact a professional.
I have struggled with what to eat before a run my whole running career, and it is still a work in progress for me. For years, I would wake up at the crack of dawn and just head out the door, not eating or drinking anything. As I’ve increased my mileage and time on my feet, I’ve realized that strategy doesn’t work and that I need to have more than a glass of water before a longer run.
The hardest part of eating before a long run is finding that “magical” combination that works for you. That means eating foods that are easily digested (ideally not high in fat or fiber) that include a mix of mainly carbohydrates & some protein. I personally also try to avoid dairy, greasy foods, and anything “new” before a long run. It’s also a good idea to keep your portion sizes in check.
Keep in mind that everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. The best thing to do is test out your pre-run nutrition during your training and not on race day. I cannot stress this point enough.For me, I like to have a mix of carbohydrates and protein, typically about a 3:1 ratio. This might include oatmeal with raisins &/or nuts or a piece of toast, bagel or a toaster waffle with nut butter & jam. Bananas are a great choice, too, especially if you digest them well.
A lot of people, my husband included, enjoy a cup of coffee before heading out the door. If you do this, make sure to give yourself enough time to digest everything before heading out and drink it with your pre-run snack to ensure you don’t upset your stomach. If you plan on doing this before a race, make sure to practice so that you know how your body’s digestive internals will process things.
One of the most important things to ensure a successful long run is to stay hydrated. I like to have about 8 – 12 ounces of water or energy drink in the 60 – 90 minutes prior to a long run. GLUKOS Energy Drink Mix Powder comes in 3 flavors, Orange, Fruit Punch & Lemon, and is a great choice. For longer events, I like to begin incorporating extra hydration several days before race day to really give my body plenty of time to reach an optimal level of hydration.
You’ve eaten, gone on your run, and now you’re enjoying that post-run high… but don’t forget to replenish your body. It’s really important to get in approximately 100 - 300 calories of nutrition within the first 30 minutes post-run for proper recovery.
There are two GLUKOS products that are a good option for post-run recovery. Both are a way to get in fast protein for optimal muscle recovery, GLUKOS Protein Bars and GLUKOS Protein Powder. The protein bar comes in 3 flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream & Rocky Road. If you have a sensitive stomach, it might be easier to drink your nutrition using whey protein powder (vanilla & chocolate) that you can easily mix with water or milk into a shake. You can even blend it with a banana, some peanut butter, and ice (or your favorite ingredients) to make a delicious & refreshing smoothie.
In the hour – two hours after your long run, you probably want to get in additional calories. For me, this usually means making a smoothie; however, if I’ve gone really long, I’ll have a bigger breakfast like a veggie omelet with toast, potatoes, and fruit. If it’s later in the day, I might have a turkey or chicken sandwich with avocado alongside a small salad or fruit.
Post-run fueling is ultimately a very personal thing. Find a combination of carbohydrates, protein & a little healthy fat that works best with your active lifestyle and overall fitness goals. And, don’t forget to practice sticking with a nutritional recovery routine to help ensure you are consistent. Then, assess how things are going and continue to adjust to improve your strategy to dial things in.