How to fuel yourself to the finish line.

Photo: iStock

Hydrating is one thing but runners (at every end of the spectrum) need sustenance to get them through a race. Rumour has it that Usain Bolt ate 1000 chicken nuggets throughout the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

And, while eating nugs might sound like a dream (or perhaps your worst nightmare) a nutritious feed before pounding the pavement is essential.

We spoke with Joel Feren, accredited dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians Association Australia, about what and when you should be eating before kicking up your heels and running like the wind.

But before actually selecting the ideal feed, Feren emphasises that “timing is everything.” Essentially, your food needs to be easily digested and absorbed before working out.

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If you’re eating two hours before your run…

Feren suggests a nutritious fruit smoothie. “Milk has a wonderful mix of carbs and protein to help fuel your muscles.” Milk also contains leucine, which is an amino acid that’s great for muscle recovery.

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If you have less than an hour…

Your options are less substantial.

Feren recommends a sports drink for necessary electrolytes and a quick boost of energy. These drinks also sit lightly in the stomach and won’t weigh you down.

Beetroot juice is also an option, although it might sound slightly left of field. “Beetroot juice is high in a compound called nitrates, which gets converted into nitric oxide,” says Feren. “This has been shown to improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to working muscles.”

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What about mid-run, when hunger strikes?

This is the answer that will probably both surprise and delight you. If you need mid-run sustenance, Joel recommends sticking to jellybeans, snakes, sports gels and bars.

Yep, a small sugar hit might power over the finish line.

If you’re considering not eating before your run, you should know it might mean decreased results. Essentially, Feren recommends you always start a run in a well-nourished state, even if it just means opting for carbohydrate rich foods before to build up your energy stores.

October 19, 201610:44am

fitness | body+soul

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