Nutrition for Runners, Part 1: Consistency Matters
If your diet is horrible on a day-to-day basis, then you can’t maximize your training performance, and thus your race results will suffer. Starting a running program requires extra attention to good foods day in and day out, due to the extra demands you are placing on your body. Your muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, blood and mind all need a lot of nutrients to support your running program. Failure to eat properly will not only decrease your energy and your running performance — it will increase your risk of injury and illness and impair your recovery from workouts, injury and illness.
What can you do about it?
1. Hydrate: water is key for the transport of nutrients and the elimination of waste products. It will help with joint lubrication and shock absorption as you pound those miles and it will help maintain heart rate while improving performance. Aim for 2 to 3 litres per day, and around 500 to 750 millilitres per hour while running.
2. Eat your Veggies! Vegetables might not feel like the stars of the show, but they will help you perform like one. Vegetables offer the vitamins, minerals, fibre, bioflavanoids and phytonutrients that you’ll need to have to succeed in your running goals. As a runner, aim for 7 to 10 tennis-ball-sized portions of vegetables per day to give you the nutrients you need to keep your body strong and healthy. As a runner, you need more micronutrients than those less active then you.
3. Don’t count calories, eat calories that count! While calories count, quality matters more. If you only focus on the macronutrients, your diet may be missing in the micronutrient department — which will increase your risk of injury and illness. Aiming for real foods — including vegetables and fruits, lean meats, starchy carbohydrates (such as legumes, lentils and squashes) as well as whole grains, and healthy fats such as olives and avocados — will help ensure you are well nourished.