What to eat, and when to eat it? Fuelling the body is an integral part of your training, and not a topic to be overlooked. With so many products on the market, how to choose? Well, here are a few great ideas to help you along.
1. Keeping Hydrated
For general training, whether you're on the track, road or heading for the hills, the most important thing is to keep hydrated. You may think this is simply a matter of drinking a few glasses of water every day, but that's not the whole story.
Sometimes when we drink water, it goes straight through us and is not absorbed into our bodies. When this happens our training performance suffers. A good way to prevent this is by taking electrolytes. Electrolytes include minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Water helps to disseminate these minerals throughout the body and into blood, tissues and organs. So why not try Nuun Tablets. They are easy to use, just plop a tablet into a glass of water and wait for it to dissolve. The other plus is that they taste great too, with lots of yummy flavours to choose from.
2. Keeping Blood Sugar Levels Up
This needs to be a vital part of your training programme. If you keep hydrated and fuelled up before and during training sessions, then you are giving your body the very best chance to stay healthy and injury free. However, if these points are overlooked, then disaster can strike. In the same way that drinking when you are thirsty is too late, equally, not eating until you are hungry is also too late.
If this happens on a long run or in a marathon situation, then there is no coming back from this point. If you have not put fuel into the tank, then naturally the body will be running on empty. At this point the stomach can shut down and either you finish the run enduring a lot of pain or you have to give up. On top of this situation, it will take much longer for you to recover before being able to go out training again. So, enjoy trying out all the different options of energy foods, to see what works best for you. These can be broken down into two types: drinkable and chewable.
Energy Gels & Chews
Have you ever been told by a colleague or friend, "Running the Marathon? You have to go and get gels!" So off you go to the local running shop or look online, and there are so many different types of energy gels... where to start?
First of all, don't panic. Energy gels vary in texture, but they're mostly of a gooey nature. It's best to try out a few to see which you like. Popular options are Power Gel or Clif Shot. These will give you a boost of energy through a long chain reaction, ie. it will be dispersed through the body at an even rate rather than the rush and dip of energy you would get from a chocolate bar. If you are in a warm climate, or simply want to go for something different, then try the SIS Go Gels which have added electrolytes.
For the ultimate energy boost, (perhaps at mile 19 in a marathon) try a caffeinated gel such as the GU energy gel in Espresso Love. Keep the caffeinated ones for the second half of your event, otherwise you run the risk of burning out too fast.
Another option would be chewy gums such as Sport Beans or Clif Shot Bloks. These are yummy and also will help tremendously with blood sugar levels. Whichever you try, it is imperative to take some water with these products. After you take your gel or chew, simply take a few generous sips of water.
3. How to Beat 'Tired Legs' the Day After Training
If you are marathon training, and go for a long run at the weekend, it can be hard to be ready for work on Monday morning. For some people, fatigue hits the legs, for others it's a general 'brain haze'. The best and most effective way to deal with this situation is by taking in some extra protein after your long run.
But how to do this, when often the last thing you feel like doing straight after a long run is to eat a big meal? The simplest way is to consume a good protein drink within half an hour of finishing, (be sure not to leave it longer, so as to prevent your blood sugar from dropping). You could try SIS Rego. I love the chocolate flavour! Mix it up well, and leave it in the fridge before heading out, and then enjoy your tasty beverage on your return. You will be sure to notice the difference in energy levels the next day. (If you wish to make the drink thicker, then add milk or soya milk instead of water.)
Happy Running and Happy Fuelling!