Why you need to eat well to be a better runner

Training for any running event requires proper planning. How to refine your running technique, how to plan your rest days, how to choose the right strength work, it all has to be understood. It’s just as important to plan your diet, especially if you’re training for a marathon.

Without adequate protein and glutamine, athletes can experience the effects of reduced metabolism, shorter recovery times, and increased susceptibility to infections. Athletes who train intensely for competition have higher nutritional needs than sedentary people, says Girish Bindra, running coach at ASICS. “Nutrition plays a very important role with physical training for endurance athletes. Endurance athletes should consume 1.4g/kg/day of protein. Athletes who compete in longer endurance events need more protein than those who run shorter distances.For example, endurance athletes weighing 65 kg should consume 91 grams of protein per day to support their endurance exercise.

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Essential micronutrients like iron (found in lentils, kidney beans, and pumpkin seeds) help your blood carry oxygen to your working muscles. So if your diet is lacking in iron and other essentials, including B vitamins, your muscles simply won’t have the strength and endurance to perform optimally. Should nutrition plans be planned based on the type and intensity of activity? Absoutely. Although everyone needs the basic micronutrients, understanding how much the body consumes is important when developing a nutrition plan.

“Nutrition is different for people who train in the gym compared to those who participate in endurance running, cycling, etc. For example, endurance sports require carbohydrate loading before, during and after the event. It is the main source of energy. Even the state of hydration before, during and after an event is very important because a large amount of water is lost through perspiration. Rehydration becomes essential for a optimal recovery. On the other hand, during weightlifting or resistance training, carbohydrates are not needed during and after the activity. Here, creatine plays a major role in providing energy , while amino acids and protein play a crucial role in recovery, says Pranay Jham, Founder and ACSM Certified Nutrition Consultant at ACTIVeat.

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Jham also warns that the nutrition of endurance athletes depends on several factors such as the type of sport, the duration and the level of competition. Other factors such as the athlete’s age, gender, body weight, muscle mass and fat percentage should also be considered. Bindra adds that most high endurance athletes use the carb load as a diet a few days before the event. Indeed, “carbohydrate loading” is known to produce an increase in stored muscle glycogen, which allows athletes to prolong their training, while improving their long-term performance.

But also during the race you have to focus on your diet. You don’t want to run out of energy halfway through your run. “Refuel every 45-60 minutes during a long run, with about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates (120-140 calories) per hour, such as energy gels, and remember to stay hydrated with plenty of fluids and of electrolytes. Immediately after running the marathon, replace depleted muscle glycogen by consuming carbohydrate foods such as bananas, raisins, granola bars, energy bars. Many sports drinks also provide carbs,” says Bindra. He adds that protein is also important because it helps with tissue repair, exercise recovery, injury prevention, immune function and the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. So your workout plan isn’t the only thing you need to look at right now. If you’re planning on running a marathon, take your nutrition and hydration needs just as seriously.

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