I write about nutrition a lot. Type “nutrition” into the search bar and you will find a few pages of blogs related to nutrition. Nutrition is a big deal that is important to our everyday lives. When you are out training for a long time, you can crash hard if you do not consume enough of the proper food. I can’t tell you how many different ways I have found to mess up my nutritional intake. Sadly, I continue to find new ways to mess up.
Proper nutrition starts early
When you are planning to do a long workout of longer than 2 hours, you should limit your intake of food that digests slowly the day before your workout. I am not talking about whole grain foods here. I am talking about the calorie bombs from Carl’s Junior like a ½ pound burger with bacon and guacamole. Things like that stay in your system for days and don’t really help the digestive tract very much. Eat healthy foods that are high in fiber and are light in nature. Things like jello, tuna sandwiches and lots of fruit and vegetables. I grow my own tomatoes and eat them for most of the summer and fall. It is also good to drink lots of fluids the day before a long run. I tend to drink 2-6 quarts of water per day.
Before the big workout
I like to eat an hour or two before I go for a long run. My favorite is Ted’s terrific pancakes with real maple syrup. When it is warm out, I add more salt according to the temperature. The warmer it is, the more salt I add. I also like old fashioned oat meal made with milk and real maple syrup added as a sweetener. Again, the salt level goes up depending on the temperature. Sometimes, I will eat a breakfast food 2 or 3 hours before the run and something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich right before I leave for the run. I did a lot of research on pre-workout nutrition to come out with the same answer from all of them. That is to try different things to find what works for you. If you search my articles and reviews, you will find stuff that works for me.
During the run
Long runs can tear you up. Make sure you carry some type of nutrition and some type of electrolyte. The experts say all kinds of conflicting things about hydration and nutrition. I do know that we are all different and we have to find what works for us. To make things confusing, different things work on different days. I like both Clif and Gu. They are both local companies that are very nice to the local runners. I tend to lean toward Clif because they are so cool. One day, I can run and the Gu gels work great for me. I can switch between flavors and types (rocatane and regular) and love the way they go down. The next day, I can run and choke on the Gu gel while the Clif goes right down with no problems. Other days, neither will work and I will eat peanuts and candy.
On a course with a lot of water stops, I will carry an electrolyte drink. I like the Gu and Clif electrolyte drinks but I am currently using Gatorade because I got a huge can on sale. It does not taste as good or go down as well but living in the San Francisco bay area is expensive and I have to watch my expenses when I can. If you are ever out on a run and start getting a strong dislike for the thought of water, you should stop and consume any type of electrolyte or salt you can get your hands on. Do not press on until you get some salt in your body. Bad things can happen.
The first thing I do after a long workout is to spend 2-5 minutes stretching. I do not try to reach or stretch my muscles. I lean in different directions with no pushing at all. I do the standard legs shoulder width apart lean over and relax with knees straight and bent and a couple of other easy stretches. Then I drink some water and an electrolyte based recovery drink. If my stomach is up for the challenge, I will drink a protein shake before I take a shower. I will drink something like Muscle milk or a Clif recovery shot mixed in chocolate milk. I have been known to just drink an electrolyte drink, shower and sleep then eat after my nap. I know it is not right but that is what my body will tolerate. Eating something that is good for then getting sick is not very good. I seem to eat a lot of sandwiches with a bowl of chicken noodle soup after long runs because that is what my sub conscious wants. Try different things to find what works for you. Electrolytes are good to replace the minerals you lost through sweat. Protein shakes are good to help build up the muscles you just broke down.