Wouldn’t it be amazing if we lived in a world filled with unicorns and fairies, and unlimited food that had zero carbs and calories? Unfortunately we just don’t!
It’s common knowledge in the fitness industry that you can’t out train a bad diet. I know you don’t want to hear that, you want to hear “if I run 6 miles I can eat 3 donuts”. Well, you can eat those donuts, but if it’s weight loss you’re looking for, you just can’t eat whatever you want.
Unfortunately when we are talking about not packing on the pounds during a race training schedule. Running and especially running for training causes HUNGER and HUNGER leads to eating, and a lot of times OVER-eating. As runners we all know the complaints of gaining weight during training season.
In this blog we will cover the two main running nutrition topics:
- Training nutrition- How to not gain “Excess Weight” during your race training
- Pre-race nutrition- The week leading up to your RACE.
1. Training nutrition
I’ve YoYo’d with my weight since I was a teen, and just as I finally had a hold on my “goal weight” I started running. Thinking cardio is great for weight loss, I signed up for a marathon. “Running a marathon will help keep me at this low weight” boy was I wrong. 4 weeks in to marathon training I noticed the scale happily skipping higher and higher, sending me into a tail spin of carbs. The more miles I ran, the more numbers I saw on the scale. What are Carbs, and why do they hate us? Carbs are those little monsters that live in food that help fuel those long distances. Carbs are fuel but can also become fat if your body does not use them all. Your body needs a healthy balance of carbs along with protein and fat to work for you, and not against you.
To understand how carbs affect you, we are going drop some science on you.
Carbohydrates are broken down into 3 types: sugar, starch and fiber. We have complex carbs (SLOW) and Simple Carbs (FAST). Complex carbs are the carbs that we need to eat daily to help fuel our body’s in the long run.Think peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables, Simple carbs are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. Think milk, fruit, sugar, syrups and soft drinks. If the body cannot break down the sugars during the day, most will be stored by the body for future use (fat). That means you have to carefully count your calories, fat, protein AND carbs, in order to not over eat have them turn into stored fat.
How Many Carbs Should You Intake?
Based on these recommendations, you should consume 2.3 to 3.2 grams of carbs per pound for light to moderate training that last less than one hour, 3.2 to 4.5 grams per pound for heavy training at high intensity and 4.5 to 5.5 grams per pound of body weight each day when running longer than four to five hours.
You may have heard of “CARB LOADING” for long runs, or even for the night before your race. This can be the largest factor to weight gain during training or pre-race. Please take some time to understand the glycemic index some more so that you can be an effective manager of what you are putting in your body.
If you are just starting to get into running, there is no doubt that the day after your first intense training session you will be sore. This soreness will normally appear within 12-24 hours after the workout and gradually disappear 24-72 hours after. This soreness stems from microscopic tears in the muscle and surrounding connective tissue. These tears are the source of the pain and is the bodies way of rebuilding the muscles used to be even stronger. There are some ways to help your body in this process:
- Protein: It is suggested that after physical exertion, one should consume protein within the hour of the workout. The science behind this is that protein helps rebuild the muscle that has been torn and stretched during the process of the physical exertion. Post workout protein can be a simple as a protein shake, greek yogurt and skinless chicken breast.
- Anti-inflammatories: Natural anti-inflammatories like tumeric, tart cherry juice and ginger are known to ease the pain from soreness.
2. Pre-Race Nutrition:
The week leading up to a race can be the most nerve wrecking time for a runner and all of the training and hard work will be put to the test. Nerves are a part of life but it is important that we don’t let our nerves get control because nerves can affect sleep and digestion; both an important part of a pre-race strategy.
Throughout the week it is important to wake up a few hours before the time of the race and eat breakfast. Getting your body into this routine will help with digestion and bowel regularity. You should not be eating fatty or greasy food before the race as these do not sit well and do not digest easily. Whole grain foods like toast and bagels are a good breakfast on the morning of a race. Try not to drink too much coffee or tea with breakfast as these are diuretics and will drain your body of essential liquids especially before a race.
It is also important to eat a good balance of protein and complex carbs during the week to give your body the energy it will need for the race. Try to eat unprocessed foods to give your body the best nutrients you can give it. It is imperative that you DO NOT eat anything you wouldn’t normally eat. The last thing you want is bubble gut before a race.
Water WATER WATER! I can not stress enough the importance of staying hydrated the week leading up to race day. Just remember if you are dehydrated the day of the race, no amount of water you drink that day will help. Hydration happens the day before and is sustained the day of.
An important point to note is that nutrition is an important component to running well. You’re body is a machine, just like your car needs gas, oil changes and tune ups, your body needs a good balance of nutrition and exercise to function efficiently. There are many sources online and in your area that can help you with running better and eating well. At My House Fitness we have If MY HOUSE is too far for you, find a good running nutrition plan.