Distance running: nutrition and hydration

Here is what I pack for runs over 70 minutes. Having girly matching accessories helps my performance (just kidding). I get up 1.5 hrs before my run and have 8 oz of water. 30 mins later I have another 8oz as well as oatmeals with nuts or banana and half a powerbar. (I try to stay away from bananas b/c they are unsustainable and am looking into recipes for making my own bars.) I pack 1-2 GU, depending on run length as well as 10oz gatoraid and 10oz of water, all of which are consumed along the way. After my run I’ll have 8oz water plus 8oz soymilk while I stretch. If I don’t drink my soymilk, I’ll treat myself to hot chocolate later.

When I started running I didn’t really know what I was doing. In my head, putting on the shoes and heading out the door was an accomplishment. But soon 2 miles turned into 3 and three into five. And now I’m running over 20 miles a week as well as swimming 3x and biking 8 miles per day. I didn’t really notice it, but I started to lose weight, 10lb to be exact, which is a lot when you are tiny like me. I also started to get stomach cramps. While I was not tired, which is a sure sign of not eating enough, I decided to see a nutritionalist anyway.

Here is what I was told:

  • Always eat something an hour or two before you workout, and if you are working out in the morning and decide to hit road right out of bed, you still need to eat. This was a complete shock as I am pretty sure I read in a magazine that it is best to work out in the morning before breakfast to boost metabolism. All this time, I’d been running on empty stomach. With the addition of a light snack (read snack, not big breakfast) stomach cramping went away.
  • Hydration and salt intake is important. My parents raised me to believe that salt is bad. I drink mostly water, but still would get dehydration headaches. I’d never heard of GU and I figured gatoraid was only to be consumed when throwing up. Thanks to Fleet Feet Half Marathon Training Group, hydration hasn’t been a problem since. I discovered all sorts fun electrolyte replacement: GU, Cliff Shot, fruit (bananas, coconut), coconut milk, etc.  Unfortunately you can drink all the water in the world, but unless you balance electrolytes, it won’t stay in your body. Also, sugar adds a nice kick when you start to tire in long workouts. I was also told that chocolate milk is good to have after runs. Sweet! While I still stick mostly to water, I’ve added milk and occasional gatoraid to my diet. I recently came across this article and I think it sums up hydration quite well: http://www.active.com/women/Articles/How-to-Drink-Smart-All-Day-Long
  • Weigh yourself before and after run to see how much water you’ve lost. Then drink it back in next hour or so. I was surprised to find I could lose pounds of water, even though I was drinking 20oz along the way. I guess I sweat a lot. =) That’s from one run. I came home and changed shirts. Overshare?
  • Snack 2-3 times per day. There is all sorts of controvery surrounding how many meals per day you are supposed to have. I was eating 3 largish meals, but I have added in a 10am and 4pm snack. Snacks are supposed to be mini balanced meals (carbs, protein, and veges), but I haven’t quite gotten that down yet. I find that snacking keeps me from getting overly hungry and binge eating later.
There are so many ‘diets’ and food choices, it is hard to know what is right and wrong anymore. I’ve read and heard so many contradictory statements. Some people say all carbs are bad, others say that if you don’t eat carbs, you can deplete glycogen stores. I think it is important to eat for your body. Are you tired and hungry? Then you need to eat. Do you feel hung over even though you haven’t had any alcohol? Chances are, you are probably dehydrated. All I know is that by following a new nutrition plan, I’ve gained about 6lb and in general feel pretty good. By new nutrition plan I mean continue eating what I’ve been putting in Menu Plans for lunch and dinner, but adding in 2 snacks. Also, I’ve decided that I need to eat some sugar because it is really hard to meet caloric goals without it, but cut down on refined carbs. I’m still slower than I’d like to be (mostly because I prefer distance to speed workouts), but I’m improving every day.



About cookingcampus

I'm a graduate student trying to stay happy and busy and pursue the things I love.
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One Response to Distance running: nutrition and hydration

  1. Patty says:

    Lots of good information here. I learned a lot. I liked the pictures too.

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