Nutrition during the week leading up to a long run is:
a. more important than nutrition the night/morning before.
b. as important as nutrition the night/morning before.
c. not as important as nutrition the night/morning before.
If you answered B, you are correct. And instead of getting all science-y on you about why, I’m gonna get all anectode-y on you and speak from personal experience instead.
If you got a chance to read my training recap from last week, you’ll know my family was sick and that I ended up feverish at the end of the week. Although I kept up with the bulk of my workouts and running, I severely lacked in the nutrition department. So much so that I ended up losing four pounds over the course of one week. Not good, people.
Friday arrived and I was feeling better. I ate real food and I hydrated. I thought I would be in good shape for a Saturday morning long run. On Saturday, I ate breakfast (a full sized bagel with peanut butter and a banana), but when I set out on my run, I immediately noticed how depleted my energy reserves were. I struggled — BIG TIME.
Bear with me — I’m gonna get a little science-y on you now.
Should I train low, compete high?
If you’re unfamiliar with the “train low, compete high” philosophy, let me summarize. Training low means training with poorly fueled muscles. The goal is to teach the body to burn more fat so the limited glycogen stores are spared. (Glycogen is your running fuel.)
While this may work some of the time, if you choose this route, it is advised to do for a very limited amount of time and for low intensity workouts only. Untrained athletes seem to adapt better. However, running on depleted glycogen stores can actually end up hindering performance, particularly for trained athletes. My advice: if you plan to “train low, compete high,” don’t do it for your long runs or speed workouts.
Poor nutrition, poor performance
When anyone has a poor diet, so many things are negatively affected. Lifestyle, growth, happiness, and energy levels all suffer. When an athlete has a poor diet, it can result in injury, fatigue, poor recovery time, even reduced immunity. Training and competitive performance will suffer as well. As runners, what we eat significantly influences our performance.
Food is fuel!
There are so many benefits of good nutrition. I’m certain I don’t have to tell you. But I’m gonna. Good nutrition will:
- refuel your energy stores
- boost your immune system
- improve your performance
- delay fatigue
- protect against injury
Bottom line — pay attention to what you’re eating throughout the week leading up to any run, but particularly a long run or race. I’m speaking from personal experience when I say nutrition matters.
There’s a lot of information when it comes to proper nutrition in sports. So much so that I’m not going to close the door on this topic. I’ll come back to it again, possibly even as soon as next week. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, I’d love to answer them for you. You can leave your questions in the comments below and I’ll respond there. If you have a question that requires a lengthy response, I may reach out to you individually or perhaps save all the questions and answers for a future post.
Shameless plug time: if you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance and would like to discuss your nutritional needs, please contact me. I have a diploma in Sports Nutrition and would love to work with you.
Parting words of advice? Fuel up and run strong. And if you’re not fueled up properly, wait until you are or your run will suffer!
TALK TO ME!
What’s one area of sports nutrition where you’ve suffered recently? Is it fueling on the run? Pre-race nutrition? Something in between?
Have you ever bonked in a race or training run?