Following a good diet is essential for any athlete. But, the definition of a “good diet” differs based on what activity you choose and how often you do it. Running is no exception to this.
There are several schools of thought as to which diet is best for runners. The diet you choose will have a lot to do with your goals, too. Long distance runners such as those who run marathons and ultra marathons have a need for a higher amount of carbohydrates than a runner who only goes short distances.
So when deciding on what type of diet you should eat, you need to keep in mind your level of activity and your overall goals. Failure to eat enough calories can actually result in injury and cause you to not perform your best. Here are some guidelines.
The Importance of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are very important for runners, especially for those who regularly run long distances. The body converts carbohydrates into glycogen which is stored in the muscles and used for fuel during activity. But after a while, those glycogen stores get depleted.
That is why it is important for runners to eat a good amount of carbohydrates. When running long distances, it is also a good idea to take along something that is high in simple carbohydrates, such as sports drinks and gels. Once the glycogen in your body is depleted, you will need to replace it with extra carbs.
Maintaining Electrolyte Balance
Runners sweat a lot. When this happens, valuable minerals are lost, namely potassium. The term “electrolytes” refers to the balance in your body between sodium and potassium. A deficiency in potassium can result in problems such as muscle cramping, which can affect your running.
It is important to replace these electrolytes while running. Sports drink is an essential product to have on hand. Drink a bottle about an hour before each run and try to sip on it while running. It also makes a great after run drink. The sooner you replace lost carbohydrates and electrolytes, the easier it will be for your body to recover quickly from your run. Sports gels are also a good alternative to sports drink, just make sure you drink water with it.
Adequate Fluid Intake
Dehydration can be a big problem for runners, especially when running in hotter temperatures. Not drinking enough water throughout the day and during a long run can be dangerous. Dehydration is a serious condition and one that can land you in the hospital. To prevent it, drink water throughout the day and before and during your runs. You may also want to consume some sports drink to help replace electrolytes.
Find What Works
After you run for a while, you will start to understand what works for you. People develop their own pre run and post run rituals. They also find that they crave certain foods that they need, such as bread and pasta.
The important thing to do is listen to your body. Follow these guidelines but also remember to adapt them to your own needs and lifestyle. When you do this, you will find that you feel much stronger and have a lot more energy.