Why do runners neglect their nutrition?
Runners are a unique breed. We have a level of motivation and determination like no other. Not only do we want to accomplish and succeed, we want to get better and push the limits. We spend countless hours finding the perfect run training plan to equip us to tackle the next big race. We buy new shoes, new gear, new gadgets, new gels, new chews, all because we are determined to run our fastest pace yet! However we fail to recognize the important role nutrition plays in fueling and recovery throughout our training, and just continue along our way, without trying anything different. Change that now! Get my guide outlining the TOP-5 Nutrition mistakes runners make and how you can avoid them.
As a registered dietitian & runner, I am asked countless times about race day fuel, both pre-race meal and nutrition/hydration during a race, but rarely asked about nutrition to fuel training, or just life in general! The physical demands of running puts HUGE amounts of stress on your body, and you cannot view your "nutrition plan" for running, as being separate from your overall eating habits or diet, they co-exist, and fueling your BODY right, period, will in turn help to fuel your running. So it is time to get serious, and realize that nutrition is a tool in your toolbox that is often neglected, and is the tool that is missing that could be the major key to your success in breaking your next PR. Here are two common examples, that relate to running, but the solution itself is in simply adapting your daily eating pattern and habits. Remember, it is what you do EVERY DAY that counts, and if you run daily, or multiple times per week, then changing your daily eating (ie not just race day nutrition) will make all the difference in your training, which translates to race day success and PR crushing!
A common problem: long run fuel
" I never know what to eat before a long training run. In the morning I feel like I can't eat anything, but then half way through my run, I hit the wall"
Yes, this is a common problem, in-fact this is an example taken from one of my clients, a real life example! She was struggling with finding fuel for her morning long run. She feels nausea when trying to eat in the morning, upset stomach when she does eat, and then total lack of energy when she doesn't eat! Sound familiar? This same problem is duplicated on race days-- she doesn't know how to fuel for her actual races, causing poor outcomes, miserable race memories and never hitting her PR! What do you do? Let's take a step back..and look at the normal routine, what are you doing a MAJORITY of the time. GUESS WHAT? Her routine did not include breakfast, she was not a breakfast eater, ever...No wonder her body didn't know how to utilize that early morning fuel properly. What is the solution? Her plan included a step-by-step strategy to build breakfast into the routine. Start with small amounts of food, a piece of fruit for example, do that for 2 days, then add in protein, whole grain carbohydrate to build a balanced meal. Once she was consistently eating breakfast, adjusting that meal around her training schedule became a lot easier as her body was more efficient at utilizing those nutrients.
Not a breakfast eater? Try having one of these fibre-rich muffins to start with in the morning, it may just be the burst of fuel that you're missing.
A common problem: pre-run snacking, should I?
" I run on my lunch break, and if I eat my lunch before I am too full to run, and if I wait until after, I am starving, I just can't get the balance right"
Another real life example! Sound familiar to you? In this example, my client ate breakfast early, 6:30 am and lunch was at 1:00pm, and he never brought snacks, or bought snacks at work, just ate three meals daily. To improve his overall diet quality, he changed 2 areas. (1) Added more fibre and protein to his breakfast to prevent hunger during the morning and, (2) Added a morning snack at 11:00am, a balanced snack containing protein and carbohydrate (his favorite was a handful of pretzels and a cheese string), with this snack, he was able to run with energy and eat his lunch after.
Now I challenge you, take a look at what you do. Where can you improve? This isn't an easy answer...if you knew, you probably would be doing it already! But ask yourself this...what are your goals? Can nutrition support you in achieving these goals? Every runner knows where they "struggle" with nutrition as it relates to racing, but STOP, take a step back and look at your eating pattern, day-in, day-out, what daily habit needs to change or improve, before your running can improve? If you are ready to make a change, I am ready to help you! Chat with me now and let's figure out a plan for you to crush your PR's!