by Vanessa Perrone
If your goal is to keep fit or set a new personal record, the proper pre-run nourishment can set the pace for success. Below you’ll find some fundamental fueling tips to consider before heading out to hit the pavement.
1. Fill up the tank
Expecting your body to run on empty will most likely result in sluggish performance. Instead, fueling up on the proper foods at the proper time will provide your body with energy, a sense of fullness, and sustained blood sugar over the duration of your training.
2. Think carbohydrates
As the body’s preferred source of energy, runners primarily rely on carbs to fuel their muscles. Stocking your diet with a variety of whole foods such as quinoa, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables are key for maintaining carb stores that will supply the body with energy during long runs.
3. Timing is key
For most, three to four hours is sufficient time for a regular meal to settle before a run. But if you plan to work up a sweat at a higher intensity, extra time might be necessary. In either case, avoid high-fat or high-protein meals pre exercise. Steer clear of fried foods, heavy meats or rich sauces, as they exit the stomach at a slower pace and can be detrimental to performance.
As your run approaches, your meal should be lighter, should consist of quickly digested carbs and of a small amount of protein — if you can stomach it.
Here are some tested pre-run snacks:
- slice of toast and fruit preserves
- rice cakes topped with nut butter
- trail mix (dried fruit & nuts)
- piece of fruit
- small smoothie
4. Keep it familiar
Although broadening of culinary horizons is normally encouraged, avoid any unfamiliar eats on training day. Stick to trusted foods that will provide you with energy rather than discomfort.
5. Stay hydrated
Aim to guzzle three to four glasses of water within the hours before your workout to ensure optimal hydration on the run.
6. Trial and error
Pre-exercise fuel should be tailored to individual tolerance. To find that perfect balance, you must stay attentive to your performance. Why not journal your pre-run meals along with your running log? This is a sure way to establish which foods work best for you and will help propel you towards your goal.