This week, we’re talking about one of my favorite things: nutrition! Nutrition has always been an interest of mine. I actually received my college degree in nutrition. Oddly enough, my cadet, Amy, is studying to become a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner. Clearly, this is one of our favorite topics. Not only do we love food, but we also love learning how it affects out bodies.
One of the first lessons that I remember learning in school is that the human body is made up of 70 percent water. More specifically, our blood is 90 percent water. So we need water on a daily basis for our systems to function properly and effectively. During training, staying hydrated becomes even more important. Your body loses a lot of water during your workout, and if you work out in the morning, then you are typically already dehydrated. Staying hydrated throughout the day is one of the most important aspects of successful training.
The other important aspect of successful training is nutrition. Eating right and properly fueling your body to perform is critical. A lot of times you will hear about carbohydrates as being an important energy source for runners, which is true. Before a workout, carbohydrates are necessary because your body will tap into its glycogen stores. Carbohydrates are needed to replace the glycogen loss and increase their storage. This is the most effective way to reduce post-workout soreness as well.
Protein is also critical for our bodies. Before a workout, a small portion of protein stabilizes our blood sugar and provides a steady source of nutrition for our body, muscles and the workout. Protein also provides the necessary amino acids for muscle fibers to repair after a workout.
For me, I love either a banana or sweet potato with nut butter or nuts before a run. As for Amy, she loves a banana and a hard-boiled egg. These are both good combinations of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to slow digestion. What is most important is figuring out what works for you, which is just trial and error.
Now, if I could only have three foods for the rest of my life I would have to go with sweet potatoes, eggs and nut butter. Sweet potatoes are great for runners because they provide high complex carbohydrates, which help fill muscle glycogen, the energy source for high intensity workouts and races. Eggs are a high-quality protein that actually contain all nine essential amino acids in ample amounts. They are also a great source for vitamins and minerals that are necessary for our bodies to function. Nut butter is a great way to up your protein intake and healthy fats. Plus, who doesn’t love a spoonful of peanut butter? But beware: be sure to pick a brand that has only nuts listed as an ingredient.
As athletes, eating right is important in order to take care of our bodies and to give us the energy to perform. What works for one person may not work for you, so test out different options and see what makes you feel your best!
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.