One of the most important aspects of training or racing is to ensure you are properly fueled going into the event. When done properly fueling can provide several benefits to help you maximize the effort you put towards the workout or race. There are a lot of articles and theories out there on what specifically to eat or drink prior to the run, but this post will focus more on four basic principles in ensure you have an base knowledge of how to fuel for success.
- Timing – As a general rule of thumb, the longer the workout or race, the more time you want to give your body to process the nutrients being consumed. If your workout or run is lasting under 30 or so minutes, you can skip fueling. Simply, focus on hydration prior to the run and after. However, a small piece of fruit can help if you’re really hangry. For a workout or race lasting about an 60-90 minutes, give your body at least one hour to digest a small meal. Anything over an hour and half, you want to give your body at least two hours to fully digest the meal, and not feel bloated before the run.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrate intake during training is absolutely key. Regardless of what you hear, your body needs carbohydrates to fuel and function properly. For pre-run fueling, focus on whole grains. For fueling during longer workouts or races, consume multiple sources of simple carbohydrates to maximize your training or racing effort.
- Hydrate – Yes, a key to fueling is hydrating. Not only does consuming fluids while eating help digest the food properly, but it can also help top off your fluid stores. Starting a workout or race in the euhydrated (normal state of body fluids), will ensure your muscles have what they need to function properly.
- Variety – More is not always better, but variety is crucial. Consuming multiple sources of carbohydrates during the run, as in, a blend of simple carbs (dextrose, sucrose, and/or fructose) will allow your body to tap into multiple methods of transporting these nutrients to working muscles.
In the end, fueling can make or break your workout or race. Your body does have an ample amount of stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. However, depending on the training intensities those stores can run out. Therefore, its important to top off those stores before your run, and of course to have a consistent intake of carbohydrates both through fluids and foods during the run to supply your body what it needs.