Five top nutrition tips for distance running

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Training for the Hamilton Half Marathon and Auckland Marathon has begun. Experienced runner and sports dietician, Kim Abbott shares some advice for nutrition preparation for events such as these.

1. Fuel your training. Your daily diet needs to be high carbohydrate, moderate protein and low fat.  Carbohydrate is your most important fuel source, so eat a variety of good quality carbohydrate foods (e.g. bread, cereals, pasta, rice and fruit) throughout the day.

2. Get your hydration right. Keep well-hydrated by drinking a large glass of water with all meals and sip on water during the day.  Water is enough for training sessions under 60 minutes.  However, on race day and training runs more than an hour, you need to replace carbohydrate and electrolytes as well.

3. Use liquid forms of carbohydrate. It is hard to consume solid food while running.  Sports drinks and/or energy gels are an easier option.  They are also convenient when it is not timely to eat and digest a solid meal, e.g. before an early morning training run.

4.
Optimise recovery. In addition to fluid, consume a high carbohydrate, protein-containing snack, within 30-60 minutes after your training run.  Good choices include a fruit smoothie, flavoured milk, baked beans on toast, or a bowl of cereal with milk.

5. Prevent mistakes on race day.
– Practise your nutrition strategies in training.
– Never try anything new on race day.
– Trial your pre-race meal before a long training run.
– Know what products will be provided at aid stations and trial them on training runs. Your best option on race day might be to carry your own carbohydrate and fluid sources.

Nutritional needs vary. They depend on race distance, the type and intensity of training.  Individualised advice and nutrition plans specific to you and your sport/event, can be a crucial part of a successful outcome.

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