As someone who’s been running for 18 years and eating for many more, you might think I’d know all there is to know about nutrition for runners, but that’s not the case. In my early years of running I was focused on eating for weight loss. Once I settled at a healthy “happy weight,” I focused on overall nutrition. More recently I’ve probably gotten too laid back, but now that I’m in a new decade I’m trying to pay more attention to my food choices again.
Since I don’t run marathons I don’t do much to fuel my runs, but when Laura invited me to try her Fit and Fueled nutrition program, she promised it was not just for marathoners–and she was right. Now that her course has wrapped up, I thought I’d share five things I learned that apply to any active woman.
Five Things I Learned About Nutrition For Runners
1. Limiting sugar is easier–and harder–than I thought. I know from doing Laura’s sugar-free challenge last year that my typical diet doesn’t include much added sugar. The main culprits are my Chobani Coconut blended yogurt (about 9 g added sugar) and Chobani Coco Loco Flip (probably at least 18 g added sugar). The blended yogurt fits easily within Laura’s suggestion to limit added sugar to 25 g day, but I’ve relegated the Flips to an occasional treat instead of a daily snack.
2. I should
give up reschedule my mid-afternoon piece of dark chocolate. Laura also shared advice on when to consume sugar, explaining that enjoying it with (or at the end of) a meal reduces its impact on blood sugar levels and prevents insulin swings. That means I would be better off if I didn’t raid my dark chocolate stash–or dig into a Coco Loco Flip–for a mid-afternoon break at work.
3. I should eat sooner after my workouts. I’ve heard the advice to refuel within 30-60 minutes of finishing a long run before, but I’m still not good at implementation. On weekdays, I don’t eat until after I’ve showered and gotten ready for work, and even on weekends I’m likely to enjoy a cup of coffee or two before I start fixing my post-run breakfast. Eating during the suggested window is supposed help your muscles restock glycogen stores, which promote recovery and readiness for your next run. When I start doing longer runs again, I will focus on adjusting my post-run habits.
4. Training on low fuel can help your body run more efficiently. Laura’ suggests doing a variety of fasted vs. fueled runs during your training program. I usually do short runs from home in a fasted state, but if I’m driving somewhere I usually have a rice cake with peanut butter on the way.
5. Rest is when the magic happens. I know that muscles recover, repair, and rebuild in between workouts but I am not very good at putting that knowledge into practice with my workout schedule. You know I love all the workouts and hate taking rest days, but Laura’s suggested schedule for women my age has only two hard days, one moderate day, and four easy/rest days.
Laura will be offering her Fit and Fueled class again in March, so if you want to learn more about nutrition for runners, check out her website for more information.
Have you fine-tuned your nutrition to fuel your running?