“Without a proper diet, long distance runners cannot maximize their true potential.”
I think that is the perfect opening line considering what we will be discussing in this post. We all need a good diet for optimum body performance but when it comes to long distance runners, a nutritious diet is even more important for sustenance.
Some of the best long distance runners in history like Said Aouita and Mark Nenowcan run up to 24 hours consecutively. This is mainly because of the nutritious rich meals that make up a part of their daily routine to combat muscle fatigue and maintain blood sugar levels.
It’s impossible to “win a race “on an improper diet. As a runner your body needs an adequate supply of vitamins, minerals and amino acids to withstand and recover from the pressure during and after the run respectively. Your eating habits should be treated with as much care as your running technique – nutritious diets, great technique, and let’s not forget great shoes; create champions.
“Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal of The Day”
You may think this was an excuse by your parents to make you late for school but as a long distance runner this is a “golden rule.” It doesn’t matter if you are a morning, afternoon, or evening runner – skipping breakfast is like starting a car race without sufficient fuel. A simple organic balanced breakfast, coupled with a delicious smoothie, is a great way to start the day if you plan to go running. It’s the easiest way to fuel your body with sufficient fat, sugar and protein.
Skipping breakfast can also lower your body’s metabolic rate as well as hinder proper digestion. If this happens you may develop irregular sleeping habits, tire easily and find yourself gaining more weight than you lose – a nightmare for runners. A second point to note, when it comes to breakfast, is that it should be the biggest meal you eat every day followed by lunch and then supper if needed. Stick to this and you may outrun a treadmill.
Eat More Fruits And Veggies, Minimize Process Foods
There are many popular nutritional products, supplements and tablets on the market now to help runners increase stamina but nothing beats the real deal. It’s important to bear in mind that your body desires, recognizes, and absorbs unprocessed foods more easily than its lesser counterparts.
Foods that have not been processed generally contain more nutrients, so skipping the supermarket and heading to the farmers market once in a while might be the right choice. Below are a few items you should pick up on your visit.
- Greens: Spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, kale, beets, broccoli, mustard greens, cruciferous
Legumes & Nuts: Black beans, peanuts, cashew, green beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, pecans, almonds
- Plant-based milk: Soy, almond, coconut, rice, cashew, hazelnut, almond milk
Fruit: Apples, peaches, bananas, blue berries, pineapple, oranges
Seeds: hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seeds, apricot seeds.
- Fats & Oils: flaxseed, olive, coconut and ghee oils.
Try to take the time to ensure that you’re eating the right food. Find creative ways in which you can make a boring meal into a treat and enjoy your meals. For example, combining some of your favorite fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie is a great way to get vitamins and fibers. Most greens and fruits blend really easily so you don’t have to be a pro to make a good smoothie.
Avoid Calorie Rich Foods, Go For Nutrients
If you are a long distance runner every piece of food you chew on should be loaded with nutrients. If not you’ll be losing out on the opportunity for your body to perform at optimum levels. Empty calorie foods will simply set the pace for you to gain weight rather than finish the race. Of course this does not mean that you will not enjoy your food. Just be sure to use online resources and recipe books to find delicious healthy treats.
Remember to avoid processed foods and eat more organic produce and balanced macro foods. Macronutrients are important to give your body the energy it needs to survive a long distance race. The best way to ensure that you are getting enough macros is to include foods with protein, carbohydrates, and fats in all your meals. Most nutritionists recommend that your meals contain 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% good fat.
You cannot go wrong with an almond banana smoothie and an egg omelet, mmmm.
Organic foods might be a little pricey but they are definitely worth it, so invest as much as you can. Produce that has been nurtured without pesticides and has not been genetically modified are more beneficial for the body. Your local farmers market is the best place to go to get fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Unlike the grocery store most of the foods you get there are newly harvested and thus more tasty.
It’s even more important that you purchase meals from animals that were reared organically. Look for chicken, beef and fish and even eggs that are hormone free. For those of you who are vegans you can get the right amount of protein from the nuts, beans, and seeds listed above.
Your Kitchen Is Your Sanctuary
Once you finish a long distance race, hunger is right at the end of the track. Most people have a big appetite after running for long hours so it’s imperative that you kitchen is filled with the right type of food. Eating out is not the best choice if you want to monitor your nutrient intake.
Your kitchen should be your favorite place on Earth, filled with everything your body needs. Blend together some greens and fruits before you go on your run and leave it in the refrigerator to cool. This is a convenient way to refuel your body when you have to compensate for nutrients lost while running.
Focus On Your Goals
Remember to include an adequate amount of water in your diet. As a long distance runner your body may require more fluids than the average runner. You can always mix things up by drinking a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice.
Running is one of the easiest, most convenient, and most affordable ways to exercise and achieve a healthy body that you’re comfortable in. Combine this with nutritious meals and you’re well on your way to achieving your goals. So start today!