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What does almost every runner want? To get faster! Fast racing is the goal right? Or do you just want to PR (hit your personal record)! Maybe you simply want to be able to go further without feeling exhausted. Read this post on ultimate nutrition for running to learn how.
Ultimate Nutrition for Performance Running
If you want to be your best and I know you do, then you must be ready to work for it. And not just on the track, trails or in the gym. You need to look at the whole (holistic) picture and make some changes.
There is a lot that goes into making a great runner from genetics to competitive drive, right down to what shoes you wear.
However, there is only so much that is within our control. We all know that there will always be someone faster than us. Accept it. Be your best and feel great about that. Fast racing is possible for you too!
Even if you don’t want to be faster, the benefits of holistic nutrition will give you increased energy and stamina, provide quicker recovery time, improved overall health including mental health, and possibly even leave you with fewer sports injuries.
Who doesn't want that?
Okay, let's take a good hard look at the things you can do right now to get faster.
Let’s Get to Fast Racing by Doing Just 4 Things:
1.) The pre-run snack test (because what you eat matters)
2.) Proper aerobic training using the MAF Method (because how you train really matters)
-this MAF method is Dr. Philip Maffetone’s program, but I read the book and have seen people do this training and man, it works!
3.) Adrenal Care (because self-care and rest matters too)
4.) Positive Mind Set (because a positive mindset also really, really, matters)
Let's Do This! Ultimate Nutrition for Performance:
1.) Pre-run snack test
I know the recommendations of what’s the best thing to eat before a workout have waivered over time. They have gone from carb loading the night before with white pasta, to low carb, to high fats and proteins.
But here’s the truth: what fuels you best is an individual thing. Personal differences in anatomy, metabolism, blood type, genetics, and body composition all influence which foods help you feel and perform your best.
So, how do you know what works best for you?
Start with this little 3 Day Pre-Workout experiment to figure out what your ultimate nutrition for performance looks like. Discover which food helps your athletic performance and what hinders it:
1.) Day 1
- 2 hours before your workout, eat a simple carbohydrate snack such as a bagel, pretzels, or cookies.
Write down how you felt before, during, and after your run.
2.) Day 2
- 2 hours before your workout, eat something high in protein but low in carbs like a greek yogurt, nuts, cheese, boiled eggs, or smoked salmon.
Again, write down how you felt before, during and after; leaving no details unwritten.
3.) Day 3
- You got it now, 2 hours before your workout, eat a combination food which may be something like a Clif bar that gives protein, carbs, fats, and sugars. Another option is an English muffin with nut butter.
Write down how you felt before, during, and after this one last time.
If you’re unsure what to write down, you can ask yourself questions like this:
- Were my legs heavy?
- Was I out of breath easily?
- Was I anxious?
- Did I get a headache?
- Was I congested?
- Did I have joint or muscle pains?
- Did I feel strong?
- Could I have kept going?
- I felt no pain!
I have a funny feeling I know what many of you will discover, although not all of you. (Studies like this one show that ingesting a low-glycemic meal before exercise results in greater endurance capacity for most people.)
Essentially, the pre-run snack that makes you feel good, (not bad) is the type of snack you will want to have before every run.
Once you’ve narrowed it down:
You will also need to look at the bigger daily picture and make sure you eat enough. This is because a calorie deficit:
- Forces the body to sacrifice lean muscle tissue for energy
- Lowers metabolic rate
- Increases chances of injury
Also, you will want to move away from the SAD (Standard American Diet), which is high in simple carbs and chemicals and low in nutrients.
Anyway, this SAD diet sets you up for blood sugar dips and spikes that result in mental and physical fatigue which is not good for your speed!
2.) Proper Aerobic Training.
His theory is based on carefully monitored specific heart rate training to develop your maximum aerobic function. For this you will want to get a good heart rate monitor.
Aerobic fitness helps us burn more fat and depend less on sugar for fuel. Training at a slow heart rate can actually help you speed up.
When you follow his training method you will soon see that you’re running at a faster speed with your heart rate still at a slower rate, so you're performing better with greater efficiency. You know what this means right? Yes, fast racing speed!
3.) Adrenal Care for Fast Racing.
Here’s a surprise, you don’t have unlimited energy. In case you haven’t heard yet, the adrenals are glands that set atop the kidneys.
They make important hormones which work to regulate blood sugar, stress response, and immunity, but also the energy you need for athletic performance.
Energy is not free. You need to rest and sleep well to recharge yourself because not doing so tires out the adrenals.
Tired adrenals can result in weak muscles, illness, and injury.
What besides lack of rest tires out your adrenals? Well, to put it simply, any stress. This includes mental/emotional stress as well as physical and chemical stress.
So the following factors may contribute to adrenal fatigue: too much caffeine, sugar, poor overall diet, lack of sleep, and over-training can all sap adrenal energy.
Hydration is also very important. Dehydration would certainly be a big stress for the body. As we all know, being hydrated properly helps regulate your body temperature and your body will always sacrifice muscle function for body temperature regulation.
Water will help flush out toxins, prevents cramping, fatigue, and injuries.
Did you know that chocolate milk and tart cherry juice make great recovery drinks? Did you also know that pickle juice is great for muscle cramps and soreness?
4.) Positive Mindset Needed for Fast Racing.
Anxious and negative thoughts can strip pre-race energy and affect your physical performance. I used to observe the kids before a cross country race and you could almost feel the nervous tension they had in the hour before the race began.
Have you ever felt intense anxiety even for just a short time? How do you feel afterwards? No doubt pretty much exhausted! How can expending that kind of energy just before your race be good for your performance?
Having some positive and relaxing mantras to maintain a calm and positive mind will get you better results!
Don’t believe me? Check out the Runner’s World article on this very subject.
And there you have it! Following these 4 guidelines on ultimate nutrition for performance running. will no doubt get you to that fast racing goal and winning or at least earning you a PR!
Don't forget to cross train from time to time. You can also read Alayna's thoughts on that topic just click here.