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Best Foods for Running the Distance

Best Foods for Running the Distance

There’s more to training for a marathon than just running. Proper nutrition is also essential for long-distance runners. Depending on the experience level of your clients, they may not know that what they eat during and after a run is just as important as what they eat beforehand. Here are some tips on the best foods for running that you can share with your marathon trainees to use during the course of their training.

Before a Run

Before setting out for a lengthy run it’s important to eat a good-sized meal or snack. The bulk of calories ingested prior to a run should come from complex carbohydrates—nutritionists recommend about 60-70% of calories be from carbs. They serve as the fuel that keeps glycogen levels up and muscles moving for the duration of a run. Protein and fats are also important for muscle endurance. Choose whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, nuts, fresh veggies, lean meats, eggs and dairy to deliver these power-packed nutrients.

During a Run

In the midst of a run lasting 60 minutes or more, it can be necessary to take a few minutes to slow the pace and refuel. Bodies burn energy quickly during a run so the best foods now are those high in carbohydrates, as well as those that are easily digestible. Sports drinks, coconut water or fruit-infused water are good drink choices as they deliver a rapid dose of sugar through the bloodstream to quickly re-fuel worked muscles. Foods like bananas, grapes, dried fruit and energy bars are high in simple-sugars which make them easy to digest—something beneficial during activity that commonly causes stomach cramping. They are also very portable making them easy to eat when on-the-go.

After a Run

No matter how well you fuel-up beforehand, nutrients and fluids are exhausted during a run. Replenishing them quickly afterwards helps significantly reduce recovery time. Immediately after a run, drink a sports drink to restore lost electrolytes. Then, it’s time to replenish with food. Experts recommend eating foods high in protein and carbs within 45 minutes after completing a run—it’s the window when muscles work best at renewing their stamina and gives the best chance of avoiding feeling starved. Recommended foods are similar to pre-race choices—lean meats and fish, whole grains, eggs, veggies, yogurts and even protein shakes are great options for refueling after a long run.

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