The recommended guidelines on hydration are to drink two litres of filtered water per day. If you are not drinking enough this leads to dehydration which affects your physical and mental performance.
For a runner the most important thing to consider is hydration. As the body adjusts to the exercise, whether you are just starting out or increasing your distance, it will need extra water, that is in addition to the two litres per day guide, to cope with the demands on regulating temperature and transportation of vital nutrients for energy.
Aim to drink approximately 500 mls of filtered water at least one hour before your run and have some water to hand during your run particularly if you’re new to running, practice getting the balance right else you’ll be running for the toilet!
Speaking of which, your urine should be the colour of light straw, if it is darker than this you are dehydrated. Take on water immediately.
For an extra special boost to your energy levels and performance add Liquid Chlorophyll to your water, this also supports the liver and it ticks quite a few other boxes! You can also add Solstic Energy, it is a natural energy drink that gives you up to 5 hours of natural energy – far better that the shop bought varieties!
WARNING. Avoid plastic water bottles wherever possible as these contain a substance called BPA which is coated on the inside of the bottle to stop it changing colour (turning green). Bottled water can be kept in storage for months before it reaches the shelves and often in warm conditions where it is at its most dangerous as higher temperatures cause the chemicals on the plastic to leach into the water and contaminate it making it highly toxic to us. That is why we must never drink water that’s been left in the car on a warm sunny day! It is therefore recommended that you source a BPA free water bottle and fill it with filtered water for when you’re on the go.
Before your run
During exercise your body uses glycogen for energy as its first port of call. Starchy carbohydrate (otherwise known as complex carbs) are broken down into glucose before being stored (as fat) or metabolised and used as glycogen in the muscles.
It is therefore recommended to include starchy carbohydrate in your meal the day before your planned run and in your pre-run meal (around 2 hours beforehand) to boost your energy stores. Ensure amounts are relative in terms of your activity levels though for weight management.
If you are just starting out and weight loss is your goal, avoid the starchy carbohydrates and focus instead on fats and protein and the body will switch to these for its energy source, provided you keep your carbohydrate intake low.
Some people experience gastrointestinal discomfort (stitch!) if they eat or drink too close to a run which can be distracting. So try different options in your training to find what works best for you.
With a little help from Runners World, here are some great healthy fuelling and performance foods to include in your meals and ‘power house’ smoothies:
Chia Seeds; Coconut Palm Sugar; Sweet potatoes; Bananas; Spirulina; Manuka Honey; Red Grapefruit; Coconut Oil; Quinoa; Oranges; Rice, oats (gluten free); Greek Yoghurt.
Solstic Energy; Cayenne Pepper and Chillies; Himalayan Pink Salt (available from health shops); Coconut water (for shorter runs); Kohlrabi; Lemons; Liquid Chlorophyll; Pak Choi; Beetroot; Ginseng Root
If you are running for 60-90 minutes or more it is also advisable to take on carbohydrate at 30-45 minute intervals to help sustain your energy levels for the duration of your run. If you opt for shop bought gels or bars, avoid brands that contain lots of ingredients and which are difficult to pronounce – these will not be doing you any good! Check the ingredients are as close to real food as possible. Try a few varieties on your long runs to see how you get on. Better still, make your own so you know what’s in it! See below for some on-the-run fuelling suggestions. Once you find something that works stick to it as part of your routine. Remember it’s all relative. If you have five minutes to go until you finish, avoid overloading on carbs, but likewise if you have an hour you will need enough to sustain your run, monitor carefully as any excess will turn to fat stores.
For extra fuelling on-the-run:
Mix 500mls of freshly juiced fruit juice with equal parts filtered water and add a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt for a home-made isotonic sports drink!
Add chia seeds to a liquid smoothie, or mix into a paste with coconut palm sugar
Add Spirulina to a smoothie with apple juice and mint
Add a small amount of cayenne pepper into a smoothie or race drink
Rice cakes with manuka honey
Add Himalayan Pink Salt to water or coconut water
Grate Kohlrabi into a smoothie with ginger and apple juice
If you plan a high intensity training session less than 60 minutes long, aim to take on board 3-6g of carbs per kg of bodyweight the day before the session and 1g of carbs per kg of bodyweight 2 hours before the session. Continue to top up throughout your workout with a carbohydrate drink every 5-10 minutes.
If you plan a high intensity training session up to 90+ minutes you will need to increase your carbohydrate intake to 7-10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight the day before the session and 2g of carbs per kg of bodyweight 2 hours before the session. As above continue to top up throughout your workout with a carbohydrate drink (see above) every 5-10 minutes.
After your run/exercise
To aid recovery post run/exercise you will need to take on board approximately 30g of protein to aid muscle recovery and repair within 20 minutes from finishing. A protein smoothie is ideal.
In addition it is also recommended to include Magnesium, essential fats Super Omega 3 and of course antioxidants to help rid the body of free radical damage caused by exercise.
Foods to aid recovery therefore include:
Spinach; Seeds; Quinoa; Cashews; Almonds; oily fish (wild farmed); Nuts; Avocados; Turmeric Root (add to curries); organic/grass fed Beef; Pea Protein; Eggs; Chicken; Turkey; fresh Pineapple; Blueberries; Zambrosa; Apples; Celery; Acai and Goji Berries.
Running and weight Loss
For those of you looking to lose weight it is important to note that running LSD style (long slow duration) elevates cortisol levels in the system which results in a rise in sugars to which the body’s response is to release insulin to mop up these sugars. Cortisol and Insulin together result in excess sugars (not used for energy) being stored as locked fat around the tummy area, this fat cannot be broken down and used for energy. So you may lose inches as your muscles are worked, but you may not lose any weight unless you take a different approach to your diet and exercise.
It is therefore important to incorporate a balance of different types of exercise to achieve weight loss, but this must also be done in conjunction with a clean diet as per my blog of 7th January.
The benefits of nutrition at the right times is amazing, so lots for you to try! Remember to source your foods from organic sources wherever possible. Do let me know how you get on!
If you have any questions about the content in today’s blog, please contact me via www.zafirepersonaltraining.co.uk.
If you would like me to write about a subject of interest to you or that hasn’t been covered, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week – have a good one!