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Authors: The Editors of Runner's World

Runner's World Essential Guides (4 page)

BOOK: Runner's World Essential Guides
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Zico Coconut Water:
Naturally tangy coconut water is packed with potassium to help maintain proper fluid balance.

Lucy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Oat and garbanzo bean flour make these a healthy treat for chocoholics.

Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips:
Perfectly seasoned crispy kale has less saturated fat than potato chips.

CalNaturale Svelte Protein Drink:
The blend of protein and carbs will recharge muscles after a hard run.

Food for Life Rice Almond Bread:
This whole-grain, sliced bread makes delicious morning toast.

Fueling Your Run

Many runners are confused about how much fuel they need for a long run, whether in training or racing. Some eat too much, others too little. There are potential perils either way. Having the right long-run nutrition plan can make the difference between finishing strong and not finishing at all.

“What you need are carbohydrates,” says Deborah Shulman, Ph.D., a sports nutritionist in Bellvue, Colorado. Carbs are a good source of glucose, a form of sugar that our brain, nerves, and muscles need to function. A small amount of glucose circulates in our blood, but the majority of it is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen.

The body can store only a limited amount of glycogen. When you deplete your stores, your muscles and brain run out of fuel and you feel physically fatigued and mentally drained. “Hitting the wall” is essentially your brain and muscles running out of carbs. Consuming carbs can help “minimize glycogen depletion and keep blood sugar level,” says Shulman. In other words, you’ll avoid crashing and burning. On the other hand, if you eat too much midrun, your stomach won’t be able to digest all the carbohydrates and you’ll probably experience sloshing, bloating, or cramping feelings that signal carb overload.


On a run that’s about 75 minutes or less, you can rely on your body’s glycogen stores and the food you eat prerun to power you through. Run longer, though, and you need carbs.

Jackie Dikos, R.D., a consultant dietitian who heads Nutrition Success in Indianapolis, suggests that runners start “fueling before the onset of fatigue.” That means you should start taking in carbs between 30 and 60 minutes into your workout or race, depending on the intensity of your run. Dikos, who ran in this year’s Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, starts drinking a carb-rich sports drink about 40 minutes into a marathon. You should then continue fueling in frequent, small doses. The ideal is 100 to 250 calories (or 25 to 60 grams of carbs) per hour, after the first hour of running, says Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., author of
Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners
. That’s the equivalent of one to two and a half sports gels or 16 to 40 ounces of sports drink per hour

That said, a runner’s exact calorie needs vary from person to person. As Clark puts it: “A Hummer needs more gas than a Mini Cooper.” Smaller runners might only need 100 calories every hour, while larger runners might need around 250 calories. The less fit you are, the faster you burn through stored carbs, meaning you’ll need more calories midrun to keep your tank full. Running at a quick pace or high intensity also uses glycogen at a faster rate—a car going 75 miles an hour uses more gas than one going 60.

Many runners rely on sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) and gels (PowerBar Gel, GU) for their carbs. “Both are sugar by another name,” says Clark. “Sugar is what your body wants.” But feel free to eat it in whatever form works for you, whether that’s Gummi Bears, dried fruit, or Twizzlers. Clark, a veteran of nine marathons, eats mini Milky Ways on her long runs; Shulman, a runner and triathlete who routinely wins her age group, likes Fig Newtons.

The key to long-run nutrition, says Shulman, is for runners “to experiment with what works for them.” Training runs offer the best opportunities to try new carb sources and practice timing your intake. By doing so, you’ll learn how much your brain and body need to function at peak levels. And that means no more time lost to pit stops or run-ins with the wall at mile 21.


Sure it’s important to have a smart midrun fueling strategy to keep your energy high. But you need to start smart by eating a prerun meal that consists of a couple hundred calories (up to 500) two to three hours before your run. If you run for one to two hours, consume 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise. Run longer than that and you’ll need 60 to 90 grams per hour. Luckily, runners have plenty of options for fueling up on the road, including sports drinks, energy gels, and energy bars. But when you don’t have your go-to product handy, these alternatives will keep you just as energized so you can finish your run feeling strong.

Sports Drinks

Products like Gatorade supply 14 to 18 grams of carbs per eight ounces and often contain several carb types, such as glucose and fructose, which speed energy absorption. Most also have electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance.

Do It Yourself:
Mix 8 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons honey,

teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in 24 ounces of water.

Energy Gels

One gel has 22 to 29 grams of carbs—usually from multiple sources—along with electrolytes. Take these with water to speed delivery of energy into your system.

Do It Yourself:
Mild-tasting and easy to swallow, jelly packs (those mini jams found at diners) contain 13 grams of carbs and provide two types of sugar.

Energy Chews

These bite-sized, candy-like products contain about five grams of carbs per chew. You can eat chews a few at a time, making it easy to customize your energy intake.

Do It Yourself:
Old-fashioned gumdrops contain about four grams of carbs per candy. Take 10 with you for a hit of midrun energy.

Caffeinated Carbs

Caffeine-boosted gels and chews contain 50 to 100 milligrams of caffeine per packet. The caffeine jolt helps boost your energy and may prolong endurance.

Do It Yourself:
A can of Starbucks Doubleshot (made from espresso, milk, and sugar) supplies 130 milligrams of caffeine. Unlike gels and chews, it’s not overly sweet.

Energy Bars

Products like PowerBar and Clif Bar supply 22 to 45 grams of carbohydrate, plus a good dose of protein, which will keep your stomach from growling on runs.

Do It Yourself:
Two hearty fig bars supply 90 calories and 22 grams of carbohydrate from flour, figs, and sugar.


Regardless of how long you run you should always have some sort of snack that gives you carbs so your body won’t run out of energy. And cereal (not just for breakfast) contains ample carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that make it a great prerun or postrun meal anytime. With enough choices to fill a grocery-store aisle, choosing one to suit your needs (and tastes) can be tricky. Here’s a primer on the perfect pour.

Steel-Cut Oats

Pour It On:
More cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber than any other oatmeal; also contains beta-glucan, which may improve immune strength after hard exercise.

Wait a Sec:
The catch? These roughly cut oats take 30 minutes to cook, but the health benefits are well worth the wait.

Dig In:
Prerun. Steel-cut oats take a while to digest, so you’ll stay fuller longer.

Old-Fashioned, Quick-Cooking, and Instant Oats

Pour It On:
Oats are steamed, flattened, and chopped. They’re easily digested, allowing for a fast release of carbs.

Wait a Sec:
Many instant varieties come with added sugars, so check the label.

Dig In:
Postrun, when the quick carbs can help replenish your glycogen stores.

Multigrain Hot Cereal

Pour It On:
Bored with oatmeal? Try multigrain mixes for a different texture and taste. Pick one with at least three types of whole grains for a variety of nutrients.

Wait a Sec:
“Multigrain” doesn’t guarantee whole grains, so read the label. These mixes can take 30 minutes to cook.

Dig In:
At dinner. Many multigrain cereals work great as a supper side dish.

Cold Cereal

Pour It On:
Quick and convenient, cereal is often fortified with vitamins and minerals. Milk boosts protein and calcium. Look for at least five grams of fiber per serving.

Wait a Sec:
Many have tons of sugar. Aim for 12 grams or less per serving. If it has dried fruit, then higher sugar is okay.

Dig In:
For a late-night snack. A slightly sweet cereal of around 160 calories a cup can satisfy a sugar craving while providing fiber.


Pour It On:
Made with oats, barley, and other whole grains, granola provides good amounts of fiber and carbs along with nutrients from dried fruits and nuts.

Wait a Sec:
It’s often made with added fat. Go with brands that have 160 calories and four grams of fat or less per half cup.

Dig In:
For a midafternoon snack. Add a sprinkle of granola to plain yogurt or mix with another cereal to save on calories.


You know you need to eat or your muscles won’t get the nutrients they need to run. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prepare runner-friendly meals without having so much as to boil water. These tasty, no-cook meals (each of which serves four) take less than 20 minutes to assemble and provide your body with the right mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fat.

Chickpea, Cherry, And Ginger Salad

Tart cherries are teeming with nutrients that aid in recovery by reducing muscle damage. Chickpeas supply a trio of carbs, protein, and iron, “a mineral needed to carry oxygen to muscles,” says sports dietitian Tara Gidus, R.D. A study from two Georgia universities found compounds in ginger can reduce muscle pain postexercise by decreasing inflammation.

Combine 2 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, 1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, half a red onion (diced), 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger,

cup each chopped pecans and dried tart cherries, 1 minced jalapeno, 1 cup chopped parsley, and 4 ounces feta. Whisk together 2 tablespoons each apple-cider vinegar and olive oil; add salt and pepper. Pour over chickpea salad and mix well.

Crab-and-Lentil-Stuffed Tomato with Yogurt

Crab is packed with selenium, a mineral that may play a role in warding off skin cancer. Inexpensive lentils are rich in fiber and folate, a B vitamin that may safeguard against pancreatic and colorectal cancer. “Creamy Greek yogurt contains twice as much protein as traditional styles,” says Gidus, “making it an ideal substitution for mayonnaise and sour cream in recipes.” The primary antioxidant in tomatoes is lycopene, which has been found to reduce oxidative muscle damage in runners.

In a bowl, combine two 6-ounce cans crab meat, 1 cup canned lentils, 2 sliced celery stalks, 2 sliced green onions, 4 tablespoons pine nuts, 2 tablespoons chopped basil or oregano, juice of half a lemon, and salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon curry powder, and juice of half a lemon. Slice off tops of 6 large tomatoes; guide a knife around the inside. Scoop out innards and fill with crab mixture. Top with yogurt sauce.

Smoked Salmon and Veggie Wraps

Good-for-you smoked salmon is rich in omega-3s—heart-healthy fats that may help improve the ratio of lean body mass to fat mass, according to a study in the
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
. Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant shown to decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. Swedish researchers found that nitrates in leafy greens such as spinach improve how efficiently muscle cells use oxygen during exercise, which could lead to better running performance.

In a bowl, mix together ½ cup reduced-fat cream cheese, 2 tablespoons each chopped dill and chives, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Spread on 4 whole-grain wraps. Divide among each wrap 8 ounces smoked salmon, 2 tablespoons capers, 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, 1 cup sliced artichoke hearts, and 2 cups baby spinach. Roll and cut in 1½-inch slices.

Chicken Pitas with Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

“Whole-grain pitas help replenish spent muscle glycogen stores so you are ready for your next run,” Gidus says. Poultry is a leading source of an enzyme that scientists found can help preserve muscle power during high-intensity exercise by increasing efficiency of oxygen use. The nutrient-rich resume of avocado includes an abundance of antioxidant vitamin C, folate, and monounsaturated fat, all three of which help maintain heart health.

Before running, put 10 sun-dried tomatoes in warm water to soak for 30 minutes. Blend till smooth in a food processor with ¼ cup of the soaking liquid,

cup roasted pepper, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup fresh mint, 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste. Slice 4 whole-grain pitas in half; place 1 tablespoon tomato spread in each half. Divide among each pita 8 ounces rotisserie chicken, 1½ cups arugula, 1 sliced avocado, and

cup roasted pepper.

BOOK: Runner's World Essential Guides
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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