The following question was asked during our Ask the Coaches Series on July 7, 2021 and was answered by Coach Gael and Coach Yvel.
The coaches prefaced this discussion with the fact that they are not nutritionists. Nutrition was discussed in general terms.
Nutrition is a key component for athletes. Same as you ensure that your car has enough gas and oil to continue its destination without breaking down, you must do the same with your body in preparation for the endurance of your run/race. It’s important to have a proper balance of carbs, proteins, and fats. The coaches suggest consulting a nutritionist.
Fuel yourself well.
- Do not go out for a long run on an empty stomach as you will become lethargic; you will be completely void of the energy to finish your run. Appropriate fueling as before and during your run will prevent binge eating post run.
- Be mindful of calories burned and what you are putting back in.
- Coach Gael uses Pedialyte as an electrolyte drink during her runs along with other nutritionally appropriate foods and Coach Yvel used Ensure during his track training.
- For rest days (no running), Coach Gael increases her protein intake with (2) protein 8-ounce drinks of whey protein, water or unsweetened almond milk.
- Neither coach recommends loading prior to a ½ or full marathon as it is not an effective approach to fueling for these distances. Your glycogen storage takes about 48 hours to cycle carb necessary for your endurance through your body and ingesting copious amounts of carbs a few hours before your race is counterproductive. Instead, start ingesting a bit more carbs a week out before race day such as increasing your breakfast of oatmeal from a cup to a bowl, your small pasta lunch to a medium size etc.
Get enough sodium. Insufficient sodium can lead to cramping and at worst, death.
- When athletes have ashy-white residues across their foreheads, it’s because there is a lot of sodium in sweat. Sometimes this is a measurement of dehydration, but not necessarily. Simply use it as a guide to ensure appropriate sodium and electrolyte levels. A well-balanced nutritional fuel provided by vendors such as Tailwind or UCAN blend can ensure that you are well-balanced during your running. Salt and electrolyte tabs before your activity is another helpful source.
Get more post-workout food ideas here and learn about hydration for athletes here.