Updated: May 15, 2018
Optimizing nutrition before, during and after distance running is fundamental to training and competition success. In fact, the longer the exercise challenge, the greater the potential for sensible nutritional and physiological interventions to have a positive performance impact.
Timing is essential if it comes to fuel for your training. If you have scheduled a training, you want to enable your body to complete it in a qualitative way. The key message here is that you'll need to provide yourself with some energy. In any case, the basic rule is to foresee sufficient time for your digestion. Training or running with a full stomach is not only very uncomfortable, the meal you consumed does not provide you with the energy you need for your training neither.
The basic principle is that the last main meal before training or a running a competition should be consumed 2 - 4 hours before the start. A small snack may be consumed up to 1 hour before & you should start your training well hydrated by drinking sufficiently before the start of your training or competition.
During a training or competition, it will depend on the duration & intensity whether you need to provide your body with additional energy or not. During training's of maximum 2 hour, a sports drink will in most cases be sufficient to provide you with the required carbohydrates. During longer runs or runs at very high intensity it might be required to add solid food like a banana, raisins, gels, bars, ...
After training or competition you should start as soon as possible muscle recovery. This can be done with a drink or meal that consists out of carbohydrates, protein and fluid. The carbohydrates ensure your storage is filled again, the fluid cover sweat losses and the proteins provide your muscles with building blocks to recover from the effort(Soon I'll write more about this topic, so be patient and keep an eye on our blog ;-) )
FOOD FOR COMPETITION
Food for competition is a category in it's own, this day is what you trained for, sometimes for a very long time an now you want to perform at you best. A good feeling physically & mentally is of great importance. Food plays an important rule, because nothing is more unpleasant than multiple visits to the toilet before or during competition. Or an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, muscle cramps or hunger. Never experiment during competition days, try an train drinking and eating & drinking during training's. A few key rules to keep an eye on or the following:
Ensure that the food you consume on the day of the competition is easy digestible. This means low in protein, fibers and fat, no big portions and especially no food which you are not familiar with.
Choose carbohydrate rich meals low in fiber, proteins and fat. Good examples are white bread with jam, pancakes with sugar, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies or Coco Pops with skimmed milk, white pasta with tomato sauce, white rice with sweet-sour sauce, etc.
Eat your last main meal before competition 3 - 4 hours before
In case the competition lasts more than 1,5 - 2 hours carbohydrate loading is a good plan (more about this later ... ;-) )
Remember that also today you'll need to continue drinking to remain hydrated. Start as soon as you get out of bed!