What’s the best food to ‘fuel up’? My wife hates when I ask that question especially since she is a great cook and works hard to prepare nutritious and varied meals. But for us runners it’s an important question, especially what to eat before and after training or a big race. Today we are talking about what and how to eat thanks to Susan Smallwood who posed this question on the Reggae Marathon Facebook page:
In a recent blog you talked about training tips for newbies. If you have any suggestions for what to eat before a long run that would be wonderful. Right now I eat a mixture of seeds and nuts with a few gogi berries mixed it and it seems to give me enough energy for a 10k run. I would be interested in a few tips on other good foods to eat that will give energy but not add pounds.
Susan, we’ll do our best to give some advice on what to eat before and after training and especially before a race. There are some basics that should be followed to maximize your training or race, providing the right kind of energy allowing you to run comfortably. Foods to avoid include fatty, fried food and protein. Eliminating or at least reducing fatty, fried food at any time is good advice as our friends at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica will tell you.
The basic idea behind carbo loading is that you are trying to build up your glycogen levels which is the most effective fuel to burn during a long run. What runners call ‘the wall’ is what happens when your body has used up it’s glycogen stores and begins to burn fat. And while the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party is a lot of fun, it is impossible to build up your glycogen stores by loading up on carbohydrates the night before a long race. It is much more effective to start eating a higher percentage of carbohydrates earlier in the week. For a really good explanation of how to load up on carbo and build your glycogen stores, check out this article from Active.com, “A Smarter Way to Carbo Load“.
And it doesn’t have to be just pasta. There are other foods like rice and breadfruit that are high in carbohydrates. Including them in your diet all year is the best way to ensure your body has the right fuel. Check out this article listing the 15 best food for runners for good health and top performance, “The Best Foods for Runners“.
Susan, thanks again for your question.
Until next time…
For more information, visit the Reggae Marathon Web Site. Photo courtesy of Anthony Foster.