We need energy to run. Period.
Back in December I ran a 12K. I know, I didn’t really blog about it, it was horrible. Awful. Painful and just not a good experience. I knew I should not run it. I hadn’t eaten a meal in over a week. If you remember I had some health problems during Dec/Jan and part of the problem was that I just could not eat. Couldn't get anything down and if I did I couldn’t really keep it down, so for a few weeks I didn’t really try. All I ate was mandarin oranges (yummy!) and a little bit of Margarita Pizza, also yummy, but not good fuel for the body. So needless to say I zonked out and ended up running the race Galloway style, in reverse…you know, run one minute walk 10?
Now I have no formal education in nutrition and only have what I have learned through trial an error. So with that said, you need more than stored fat, simple carbs, and water to have energy for a run. What I have noticed is that my runs have gotten longer(ya think?) . Used to I would prepare for a 7 miler the night before by eating some pasta. Somehow these days 7 miles is not really a long run so I often don’t remember to properly feed my body. While training for a half or full marathon it is so important that we feed our body the whole week, not just the night before. Example, my runs this past week were 5 miles, 10 miles, 5 miles and then 20 coming up Monday. So it is clear that I need to be giving my body the proper fuel and nutrition throughout the week so that I can perform at my peak for each of these runs.
So here is some info for you:
Carbohydrate is the element in our food which:
- supplies the energy for the body's automatic activity and for the performance of our daily tasks. The more physical work we perform daily, the more carbohydrates we must proportionately consume.
- plays a vital part in the digestion, assimilation (metabolism) and oxidation of protein and fat. If we take in more carbohydrate of any kind than is needed for immediate use the unused portion is stored in the liver or converted into fat and deposited in the tissues for future use (ick!) .
Now, simple carbohydrates are quick energy sources. I think of these as sugar - fruit, fruit juice, table sugar, honey, soft drinks, and other sweets. Glucose is the major kind of simple sugar. Glucose is the basic source of energy for all living things. Glucose supplies the body with quick energy. It occurs naturally in some fruits (the reason that during ultras you often see them giving out orange slices, bananas and such) and vegetables and is also produced in the body by breaking down other foods into glucose. So when you give your 4 year old candy it is the sugar/glucose/QUICK ENERGY that causes him to bounce off the walls for a while then CRASH! And for us, crashing is NO GOOD! So I prefer to properly fuel with complex carbs before hand and save the simple quick energy for during the run.
The cool thing about things like GU and Chomps and hammer Gel is that they are specially made and formulated by all the smart people who actually went to school to learn the type of info I tried to give you. It is a scientifically created containing a balance of complex carbohydrates and simple carbs. In other words these people know what they are doing and made things specifically for us, out there running far and long.
GU, Chomps , Sports Beans and NUUN (the Cliff shots have not been tested yet…).
I would suggest testing them out to find which one works best for you. I have tested a lot over the last three years. It takes time and patience and I would also recommend testing them while on not-so-far-from-home runs in case of GI problems. I feel lucky since I have never had any issues with that. Some people use other things like M&Ms. Whatever works for you, remember trial and error.
To wrap it up, remember to feed your body properly throughout the week. You can’t skimp on the right foods and expect to perform well during your longer runs ( I would say anything over 40 mins duration, just my own opinion).
Now what you actually eat the night before and the meal before a run also takes tweaking and trial and error. The biggest and worst error I have made was to eat an everything bagel an hour or two before my first triathlon. UGH! SICK! GROSS! NEVER. Ever. EVER. AGAIN! I don’t think I have eaten one since (that was about a year and a half ago). It was yummy and good fuel for the body but the everything part of it, yeah that was not good. I tasted that stupid bagel for two hours, while swimming, biking and finally running. But now I know, only plain bagel or toast with peanut butter, a banana, Odwalla bar, or plain noodles the morning of a race.
The night before I like a nice yummy pasta meal easy on the spice or flair. I include chicken or shrimp and lots of water. I don't think you can go wrong if you eat good balanced meals leading up to a race.
What is your favorite pre-race meal? How do you feed your body throughout the week? Have you ever tried to run after work when you haven't eaten since breakfast? How did THAT turn out? Anyone have any knowledge nuggets to share? What was your BIGGEST pre-race meal Uh OH?
I’ll try and post about the importance of protein one of these days, can’t skimp on the protein!!!
Today I am grateful for:
An Easter basket for my Little Buddy that the Easter Bunny just dropped off for the morning!
Hip exercises that seem to be working!! I have had little to no pain lately!
New running shoes! Trying to get them broke in before the marathon!!!
22 Days to OKC Marathon!