With good training and preparation, running a 10km event is achievable for most of us. However, whatever level your ability, this doesn’t mean that it’s an easy distance. 10km is still a challenging event and while from a nutritional perspective, runs of this duration usually don’t need to be fuelled during training or racing, paying attention to what, when and how much you eat while training for the event can make a huge difference to the gains that you can get from training. The following simple tips are relevant to anyone who wants to get the most from the food they eat.
- When? The timing of your food is just as important as what and how much you eat. Try to leave 2-3hrs between meals and runs, but eat as soon as you can after sessions to help you recover quickly and adapt to the training. Also, there are a few theories about how to spread energy intake through the day and many of these have merit, however a good place to start is to eat little and often through the day. In our society, we tend to eat over half our daily energy when we need at least, i.e. in the evening. Instead, start with a decent breakfast, graze through the day and don’t eat too much in the evening. Going to bed too full is probably less than ideal, may disrupt sleep and negatively impact recovery!
- How much? There is lots of research showing huge intakes of carbohydrate everyday support performance, boost immunity and help adaptation from training. However, for runners, the amounts consumed in these studies are impossible for most people to consume in the real world. They are also quantities that only really need to be considered by those training hard, a couple of times a day, six or seven days a week. Without getting bogged down in numbers, if you don’t need to lose or gain weight, it’s probably advisable to eat as much as you like as long as:
- You don’t make yourself uncomfortably full.
- You don’t’ eat an amount that negatively affects your ability to run.
- You don’t so much that it negatively affects your sleep quality.
- You always try to eat mindfully (always eating in front of the TV can mean that you overeat without thinking, so try to limit this practice).
Follow these four tips and you’ll reduce the likelihood of overeating.
- What? As we’ve said, for most, carbs are key. If you’re unsure what food give you carbs, then remember that foods that grow (any grain or sugar-rich food or foods that come from foods that grow like bread or pasta) are carb rich. In general, though, eat a whole food diet. This just means foods that haven’t been messed about with too much, rather than processed food that was made in a factory or foods that were put in a packet for you. Eat beans, nuts, greens and berries every day and if you know you need to change your diet, eat more of the good stuff before removing the bad stuff. It’s easier that way! This is also cheaper and no more time consuming than eating processed meals all the time.
- Experiment: The internet is full of simple, cheap and interesting ways to make unprocessed food taste great. Using onions, garlic, herbs and spices are an easy win so plan some time each week to cook something new, experiment, be prepared to fail and to keep trying until you can knock up a handful or great tasting, easy, natural meals without much thought.
- Structure: Most meals should be half salad or veg with ¼ whole grains and ¼ lean meat or vegetarian protein alternative (like beans or pulses). All meals should also include some kind of healthy oil like olive oils either poured over or involved in the cooking process (Olive oils is fine to cook with, despite widespread information suggesting otherwise).
- Listen: Hunger is when we need to eat, Appetite is when we want to Recognise which of these you are feeling and try to limit the times you respond to appetite as this often leads to overeating and bad food choices.
- THE KEY RULE: 80:20. Get all of this right 80% of the time and the other 20% doesn’t matter too much. For example, you might find that it’s much easier getting your diet right through the week if you know that Saturday evening through to Monday morning are free for you to have a little of what you want! You pallet can change quite quickly and it’s common for people to find that the more natural, unprocessed food they eat, the less they like the processed food that were once the go to options. Expect this to happen, and when it does, embrace the change and don’t go back to the unhealthier meals of the past.
The Author: Joel Enoch. Is an award-winning
triathlon coach for the Hartree JETS, 9-time GB Age-group triathlete and CLIF Bar’s nutritional ambassador in the UK. @ClifBar #feedyouradventure @joel_enoch @HartreeJetsTri https://www.facebook.com/hartreejetstri/