How Should a Runner Eat?
The weakest link in a chain defines its strength. Runners can carry out their training plan to perfection, but if they neglect rest or nutrition, it will be the latter that mark the weak point through which the possibility of maximum progress escapes. Therefore, eating properly is essential for any runner.
As in all aspects of athlete progress, there are general rules that everyone knows or is learning as they enter the world of running. The experience of others also adds up, and the trial and error that each one goes through is another way in which everyone learns the right way to make the most of the potential we have.
As with all aspects of life, in food, no two bodies are the same. That is why common sense advice and daily teaching must be individualized to reach the best result. A diet is not an identical roadmap for everyone, each body, each person, each moment and each sporting challenge needs a tailored plan. Even the same runner will require different meal plans at different times.
Therefore, consulting a nutritionist is the answer. A specialized person who knows how to adjust a plan to obtain the correct results. Medical check-ups, regular consultations, sincerity when telling you about our routines and finally acceptance of the plan that the professional presents to us.
There are people who find it easier to respect a plan, but in all cases you have to be transparent with the person who puts together the plan. A person who knows is always the answer, as if he were our coach, a nutritionist will allow us to perform better while feeling better.
The role of the nutritionist for an eating plan is similar to that of the coach for the training plan (Getty)
The question that runners who train in the morning ask themselves the most is if they go running on an empty stomach. The answer is that you shouldn’t run your body without breakfast. A nutritionist will find a way for any runner to know how to ingest that fuel. No one runs races on an empty stomach, so you shouldn’t train without eating food first.
You have to find what are the appropriate foods in each case. Depending on the country and culture, those foods also vary. You don’t go out on the road without loading gasoline, it’s as simple as that.
After training you have to eat, again, some food. Ideally, do this within 30 minutes of the end of the training session. Many times that window of time does not come close to any of the meals of the day, in which case a yogurt with granola is an excellent option. But again, consult an expert and adapt our diet to our schedules and possibilities. Sometimes after training we forget to eat food, we must be aware of those oversights that, to a greater or lesser extent, harm the effort made previously.
How should a runner eat?
There are diets that eliminate food, different ways of eating, there are those who do not eat meat and for some time now many runners have decided to run away from pasta. Be careful with these types of changes. Carbohydrates are fundamental, if you avoid refined pasta, you can also look for other pasta options or other foods that provide carbohydrates, you cannot do without them.
Proteins can be of animal or vegetable origin, a nutritionist will help us find the right amount in the food we eat. The important thing is to know what is done and the reason why one food or another is chosen.
And of course, hydration. Before, during and after training, hydration is essential. You should not spend more than 30 minutes of activity without drinking water. It is not millimetric, but hydrating before starting is the best way to avoid dehydration.
Hydration is as essential as good nutrition (Getty Images)
If it is long bottoms, you have to hydrate on more than one occasion. Although not immediately noticeable, lack of hydration leads to decreased performance. During the day this issue should also be taken care of, the body needs to hydrate. Isotonic drinks, used in a balanced way, help to stay hydrated and provide the mineral salts that the body loses in each session. This should also be consulted with a nutritionist.
In conclusion: a good training must be accompanied by a good diet. When we talk about good nutrition we mean the right one for each runner.
Consultation with a specialist is the correct and effective way to obtain a good result. Have a plan, respect it, do not neglect yourself and that this plan includes the foods that we usually consume, not those that are completely foreign to us. Staying hydrated is just as important as eating, and that’s why you also have to pay attention to that. The results will be seen much faster than you think. A final piece of advice: food should not be taken care of intermittently, it is continuity that really works.
*Santiago García is a marathon runner, author of the book “Running to live, living to run” and “Running again”. He completed the Six World Marathon Majors twice. On Instagram: @sangarciacorre.
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