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Page added on April 30, 2013

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Spring is here!  That also means that summer is just around the corner.  When the weather is warm, the grass is green and the sun is shining – many of us look forward to spending more time outdoors.  We even take our workout outdoors; specifically our runs!

There are probably a few runs that we’ve set goals to complete.   From some of the seasoned veterans and for all the newbies, I usually get posed the question, ‘What should I be eating?”, specifically, “What should I be eating before a run?”

Great question as improper timing and incorrect foods can cause many symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Not what you want on race day!

The foods you choose need to:  enhance endurance, prevent hunger and dehydration and promote mental awareness. (Running Rooms Book on Running by John Stanton)

The simple answer is – you need to know your body and how your body is going to react to certain foods and amounts.  You need to experiment.  Everybody is different.  Some can have a big breakfast and feel great; others will get sick on a small breakfast.  Timing is very important as well.  Remember that food is supposed to be the fuel that provides you energy for the run, so it will need some time to digest.  For heavier meals – you would want to eat at least two to four hours before the race.  Smaller meals or “liquid” meals can be consumed up to one hour before the race.

If the race is early in the morning – you should try fueling your body the night before.  Have a nutritious snack before bed to keep your blood glucose levels stable.

Here are some guidelines for you to follow:  (Running Rooms Book on Running by John Stanton)

  • Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as breads, pasta, cereals or grains, are broken down quickly to provide the body with a source of glucose and are ideal choices before exercise.
  • Fluids help hydrate the body and should be part of all pre-race meals.

Be careful or stay away from:

  • High sugar foods – soft drinks, syrups, candy – these may cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea
  • High fiber foods – bran cereals and muffins and raw vegetables – these cause bloating, gas and diarrhea
  • High fat or high protein foods – butter, margarine, salad dressings, peanut butter, burgers, hot dogs – these take long to digest and aren’t considered good sources of fuel before  and during a race.

Bottom line is stick to eating foods that you have tried many times in the past during your training and you know your body can tolerate well.

When you’ve completed the race, you want to make sure you refuel properly as well.  This will help speed up your recovery.  Keep the carbs coming!  Choose carbohydrate rich foods and drinks immediately after the race.  Continue to snack on foods, like bagels, muffins, cereal and milk, fruits and fruit juices to fully restore lost muscle glycogen.  Keep up the fluids after the race to prevent dehydration and replace the lost water from the race.

Be active and stay fueled!

Jay Raymundo
Corporate Wellness Coordinator

824 41st Avenue NE
Calgary Alberta T2E 3R3
T: 403 717 1400 ext 1450


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