Eat and run: how to fuel your workouts

When you’re training for an event or running recreationally on a regular basis, making sure you are fueling your body properly is something that is often overlooked by runners. Your nutrition and hydration can directly impact your running performance and recovery. Brittany Gordon, RHN, NNCP provides answers to some key nutrition and hydration questions to ensure you’re fuelling properly for optimal results. 

How should runners be fuelling for long training runs?

Fuelling for long runs should be a part of the runner’s training process. Sticking to easily digestible carbohydrates (sugars) is important, the harder it is to digest and break down the higher the chance of digestive disturbance while running. A good place to start is 20-30 grams of carbs every 30-45 minutes. You shouldn’t feel heavy or stuffed, only like you have even energy. 

What should runners be eating the night before and morning of a race?

The night before a race, really the 24 hours before a race, you should be eating something you’ve tested out on your long training runs. No pasta dinners, no new forms of carbohydrates, stick with what you’ve been doing during training. Avoid foods too high in fibre, especially if you have a morning race so you won’t have any unexpected bathroom breaks. 

Carb loading. When should a runner do it? How can they do it properly?

Carb loading is kind of old advice. Realistically, carb-loading starts as soon as your training tapers. It looks like this: as training ramps up you will want to add in an extra serving or two of fruit and maybe an extra serving of grains so that you can maintain the energy demands at peak training. Once your training begins to taper, don’t change what you are eating. Continue with those extra servings of fruit and grains and this will be enough to help you sustain a carb-up until race day.

How should runners be hydrating day to day versus when they are training? Should that change leading up to race day?

There isn’t a lot of difference between daily hydration and training hydration. You should be consuming fluids regularly throughout the day and attempt to avoid chugging. During training sessions, especially anything that will last longer than 30 minutes, you should be consuming liquids. Using electrolytes can assist you in staying hydrated without feeling like liquid is sloshing around in your stomach. 

Hydration is a key component to performance and is often the differentiating factor in stability and balance, something to think of next time you roll an ankle. 

How should runners who are training for a race or regularly running recreationally be fuelling themselves day to day?

Regardless of when an individual is running or training, fuel will be required. Being sure to consume food before exercise will help with the initial push needed to fuel activity. Fuelling after an activity is even more important because this is when we top up on glycogen and our body spends time repairing muscles and preparing for the next training session. Post-run, be sure to consume something with protein and carbohydrates, a good example of a snack would be a banana and some hard-boiled eggs. 

Can you touch on weight gain while in a training cycle? 

Believe it or not weight gain with running is associated with not fuelling properly. When we start training, especially for someone new to running, we have a hard time getting into a feeding groove. We accidentally skip meals or have meals that are too low in calories. Adding an increase in daily movement, leads to never-ending hunger. Being sure to eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day, especially around your planned runs. 

Brittany Gordon is a registered holistic nutritionist, certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and wellness expert. She is passionate about helping others take control of their health through nutrition planning and supporting programs. You can learn more about her by visiting Brittany’s website, Instagram or Facebook.