As I am sure you have discovered, there are so many different aspects in your training that you need to pay attention to. Just like you stay dedicated to your running schedule, you need to pay close attention to your nutrition. Like a car that needs fuel to run, our bodies need to have the proper intake of nutrients to run effectively and efficiently.
Foods are made up of macronutrients‐ Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. Long distance runners, in general, should eat a good amount of carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and incorporate healthy fats into their diet.
Let’s talk about carbs…
The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy, as they are the body’s main source of fuel, needed for physical activity, brain function, and operation of the organs. All the cells and tissues in your body need carbs, and they are also important for intestinal health and waste elimination. Once in the body, carbohydrates are easily converted to fuel. You want between 55 and 70 percent of your calories to come from healthy carbs. The best sources are whole grain products, fruits and vegetables, and some dairy products. My top 5 are rolled oats, blueberries, plain yogurt, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.
Let’s talk protein…
Protein is crucial for both tendon and muscle repair. Proteins are also essential for regulating hormones. The further distance you cover and the more times you run, the more repair work there will be for your muscles. An easy guide to remember is that if you are running a great distance you will need up to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram that you weigh. Click here to convert pounds into kilograms to figure out how much protein you need. Your protein should be of a high quality. My favorites are chicken, salmon, and cottage cheese.
Let’s not forget the fat!
Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and avocados are the healthiest fats to consume. Monounsaturated fats have been linked to a decrease in heart disease and stroke, and are one of the basic ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet. It is healthier for a runner to obtain their fat calories from these sorts of fats and oils than from unhealthy options like deep‐fried anything. I love roasted veggies drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and replacing mayonnaise with avocado on my sandwich.
Last but not least water, water, and water. It is so important to stay hydrated throughout your training. Sports drinks can be counted as hydration but anything with alcohol and caffeine does not. You want to think ahead with your water intake as well. So if you know Saturday is your long run, make sure you are adequately hydrating Thursday and Friday.
When following these guidelines, remember it might look a bit different for you than someone else. It all comes down to you consuming the nutrients that work best for you and your running performance.