TOP 10 RUNNERS' NUTRITION MISTAKES
1. Eating a low-carb diet. Carbs are your bodies’ most efficient, effective form of fuel. Not eating carbs while training for a running race is like sending your car out for a road trip without any gas in the tank. Choose healthy, complex carbs like brown rice, whole grain bread, fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat pasta as your carb staples during training.
2. Not drinking enough water. Water is what keeps your body hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, your heart has to work harder… which makes your training runs more difficult. Runners should aim for at least 64 ounces of water every day.
3. Not eating before a run (especially a long run). You may be able to get through a short, 40 minute run without eating anything beforehand. But chances are, you’ll be very hungry afterwards, and this may cause you to eat anything in sight when you finish! A much smarter approach is to eat a small, carb-based meal an hour or so before you run, so that your body has fuel in the tank.
4. Not eating/drinking enough during long runs. When your runs reach the 1-hour mark, you will need to eat and drink while you’re on the road. Otherwise, you may crash or bonk. Aim for a 100-400 calorie snack every hour. Aim for 5-8 ounces of water or sports drink every 15 minutes.
5. Not eating enough of the right foods after a run. The food you eat after a run serves two important purposes. First of all, the carbs replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles, so you’ll have energy for your next workout. Secondly, the protein helps your muscles rebuild before your next run. Aim for a snack that is 3 parts carb and 1 part protein.
6. Not experimenting enough during the training season. It’s important to find the kind of energy bars, gels, sports drinks, etc. that work for your body. Every runner is different. You may need to try a few different brands/flavors before you find something that works for you. It’s important to experiment during training, so you DON’T have to experiment during the marathon.
7. Not eating enough fruits/vegetables. If there’s one food group that is most neglected by runners, it’s produce. At least ½ of your grocery cart should be full of these nutritional powerhouses. Please don’t let carbs blind you to the nutritional importance of fruits/veggies!
8. Loading up on processed foods. Your body needs clean fuel, and most junk food, fast food, and processed foods aren’t clean. Your body has a harder time digesting them, so it has less energy left for your runs. Try to eat as many whole grains, lean protein sources, fruits, vegetables, beans, and light treats as possible. Limit your junk food, cookies, candies, and frozen meals as much as possible.
9. Eating training foods during non-training times. If you eat energy bars and gel for lunch or dinner every day, you will probably gain weight and find yourself really hungry all the time. Reserve those kinds of snacks for before, during, or after your training runs.
10. Thinking you can eat whatever you want! Well, there’s no one to stop you from eating whatever you want! But that won’t help you get lean and mean during training. Sure, you’re burning more calories, but you’re not burning unlimited calories!
Your body will respond poorly if you eat too much junk food. Remember, you’re an athlete in training!