The importance of good diet for runners
Runner’s nutrition is vital to them. But it is often one of the most overlooked parts of their training. Novice runners especially are quick to embrace new equipment and state of the art running plans but pay little attention to good diet. So as part of ‘Nutrition and Hydration Week‘, we take a closer look at this important area.
Why runner’s nutrition is so important
Running is now so popular that it is easy to forget just how demanding it can be on the body. To run continuously, especially at a challenging pace, we need to make sure we are fueling the body properly.
But what do we mean by fueling the body? And why is it so important.
Obviously, running requires energy and lots of it. Simply put, this energy is produced through a process of metabolism. The word metabolism stems from the Greek ‘metabole’ which means ‘to change’ When you run you are breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to be used as ‘energy sources’ (fuel) for the body.
Think of a fire. It uses kindling, logs, and coal as fuel to create heat energy. Kindling can be used very rapidly and burns out quickly, whereas coal is used more slowly but produces heat much longer. It is similar to the body, some fuel sources are immediately available but are used up quickly, and others are slower to metabolise but last much longer.
The first lesson that should be gleaned from this is that a balance is essential. In the same way that you can’t have an effective fire with too much kindling and not enough logs, you can’t fuel the body properly if it is overly reliant on just one fuel source. Some people eat way too much carbohydrate, whereas others eat far too much protein.
Getting the right balance of macronutrients
It is important to point out that this is a highly debated and controversial subject. As I have pointed out balancing the right levels of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) is crucial to support your training.
However, you must be cautious about broad-brush recommendations. Some would argue for a 60/20/20 split for endurance runners and some would argue for a 40/30/30 diet. (Where the largest percentage in both cases is made up of carbohydrate). But these generalised recommendations can be very counterproductive.
The truth is, getting the balance right is an individual matter. Your needs not only vary from person to person, but they also vary with changes in training volume and training intensity.
In truth, it can be a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated. Add to this the importance of ensuring that you are taking on the right micronutrients and hydrating properly before, during and after exercise and it can get exceedingly complex.
This is why it is extremely beneficial to seek out professional guidance for individual and tailored recommendations. Good advice will help you maximise your training and ensure you optimise your long-term health. It is well worth the investment.
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