Nutrition for Runners >> What Should a Runner Eat to Race Well?
“Ready… set… go!!!” Your last supper before running your race is a big bowl of pasta; the next day you prepare with a nutritious breakfast. Maybe you snack on half a banana 20 minutes before the start.
You’re off to a good start! However, if you want to improve your pace during the race and reach your goal time (or even set a new personal record), you should take diet into consideration in the initial training phase – not just the morning of the race. Your diet throughout the months of training determines your performance in a race.
Researchers from Aalborg University in Denmark found that leisure runners finished a marathon faster when they had prepared a professional nutrition strategy for before and during their race. They focused on an increased liquid and energy intake during the competition and were 10:55 minutes faster on average.
Make nutrition a priority when training for a race to up your mileage.
Running nutrition BEFORE training for a race
- Powerful mint
Add a few mint leaves to your water starting 10 days prior to the race. Mint does not only boost fat burning, but it also gives you more energy.
- Ginger: hot & healthy
Ginger makes runners even fitter, according to the Central European Journal of Immunology. It keeps endurance athletes’ inflammation scores low, thereby reducing post-training fatigue, and protects against infections.
- A glass of red beet juice before your run
The nitrate contained in red beets lowers your muscles’ need for oxygen. As a consequence, the exercise is perceived as less tiring. Plus, it dilates your blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation.
- Peanut butter for strong muscles
Peanut butter on bread every now and then during your training phase supports muscle growth in your legs.
- Magic chia seeds
A daily dose of chia seeds provides strength and endurance while aiding muscle recovery.
Running nutrition AFTER training for a race
To really benefit from your training efforts in your next race, you need to also focus on your post-workout nutrition.
- Stay hydrated
After you are finished with a training run, drink 300 – 500 ml (or more, depending on duration and intensity) within the first 10 minutes of completion. Homemade isotonic drinks, fruit juice or whey are ideal.
- Fill up on carbs
You should eat carbohydrates within an hour after your training. Opt for fast carbs like rice, potatoes or pasta. Even if you do fill up on carbs right after a run, your body needs up to 12 hours to replenish its carb reserves. So, feel free to enjoy pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. also the day after.
- And protein, too
Always try to combine your carbs with protein-packed foods for muscle repair.
Recovery, recovery, recovery
Recovery is critical when it comes to improving your performance. It’s important to find a healthy balance between training and recovery to tap into your full potential and boost your performance.
- Sleep improves your pace
Sleep is critical in boosting your performance. Both the quality and quantity of your sleep are vital for your fitness and your body’s recovery. This ensures that your muscles will be ready for the next run.
- Care for your muscles
Every runner can tell you a thing or two about cramped and tense thigh and calf muscles. If you start feeling sore, try these natural remedies against sore muscles. Additionally, give your muscles some love and use a foam roller. You can follow along with fitness coach Lunden in this foam rolling workout video:
So, it’s not all about your training… To stay fit for your next run & improve your pace, also focus on nutrition and recovery.