If you’re starting to get into more distance, you might have some nutrition questions popping into your head. What and when should you eat before, during and after your runs? What should you drink and how much? Every single runner eventually hits the distance when practical nutrition strategies can make a HUGE difference in how the run feels. Don’t fret! I’ve got you covered with tackling hunger and how to visualize your plate at meals.
Three Starter Sports Nutrition Tips
If your mileage is increasing, keep these three practical fueling tips top of mind:
1. Nourish the body for the distance
When your mileage starts increasing, your body is relying heavily on the aerobic system and you are burning way more calories than you were before. You need to replace these. Now, you might be tempted to jump on over to google for a fancy calorie calculator but I promise you don’t need to! Your body does an awesome job telling you it’s hungry – we just need to listen! When you don’t listen to the hunger, well, just skip on down to step and learn about the Run-ger.
Listening to your body means that portions will slowly increase just like your miles. As this happens, you’ll want to change up the overall balance of food on your plate. Here’s a few examples of how those changes might look:
2. Manage the “Run-ger”
Run-ger? What the heck is that? If you haven’t felt it yet, I promise you will! You know that snickers commercial with the super hungry angry person that gets a snickers and all is good in the world? That’s run-ger – your body yelling for more food. However, sometimes more isn’t all that’s needed. Sometimes, a tweak in the balance on your plate can help stabilize your blood sugar for longer and give you a nicer dose of long lasting energy.
If hunger is a constant issue, ask yourself these questions:
• Are you getting enough protein and fat? While carbs are uber important in a runner’s nutrition, protein and fat really help slow down digestion and help you feel fuller longer.
• Are you eating enough before/during/after your runs? There is no getting around under-fueling. Your body will feel sluggish, your brain will feel sluggish, and those miles will feel HARD.
• Are you eating often enough? If you are eating larger quantities but less frequently, your body might be digesting quickly and the empty gut is hitting as hunger. This can cause a drop in blood glucose which sends off a reaction in your body triggering hunger. Play around with this by splitting your meals up into more frequent mini-meals. If this doesn’t help, revisit tip #1.
3. Reflect, Learn and Enjoy
While there is a boat load of science behind sports nutrition, nutrition isn’t black or white. Your body will digest and tolerate foods differently then others in your running group. You have different tastes and different foods that you love to eat which is equally as important. That’s ok! Throughout your training, try eating different types of foods and play around with the timing. Listen to how it feels and tweak a bit for the next run if you need to. Then, once you find what feels good, use that combo on race day.
That’s a Wrap!
Is there a ton more that we can talk about with nutrition and running? Totally! But these three tips build a great foundation. So have fun playing around with this and trust that your body guide you in the right direction! If you haven’t yet checked out my favorite post-run smoothies, be sure to do so! It’s a FAB place to get started with nourishing those longer miles!