Nutrition for elite runners

Nutrition for elite runners

About distance running:

Distance runs of varying distances including 10km, 15km, half marathon (21.1km) and the full marathon (42.2km) entails road races (summer) and cross-country runs (winters) of varying distances. Elite runners may compete in weekly or fortnightly events once or twice a year.

Dietary strategies can positively influence the factors which would otherwise limit an athlete’s performance such as availability of carbohydrate for fuel, fluid balance, and lactate accumulation from anaerobic efforts. Increasing and/or supplementing the fuel stores before and during a race will assist in endurance races (half marathon or further) due to depletion of stored carbohydrate (glycogen).

Nutrition for elite runners

Training day’s diet:

Requirements for carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals and fluids vary depending on training phase of the runner. An individual’s carbohydrate intake should be dependent on their daily training load; increasing total carbohydrate and energy intake during high-volume days and decreasing intake when volume and intensity are reduced.

Nutrition for elite runners

Strategic intake of carbohydrate rich foods/drinks is important. Including protein rich foods throughout the day assists to build new muscle protein and red blood cells for repairing the muscle and better recovery. Hydration needs are influenced by factors that drive fluid losses such as temperature, sweat rate, exercise intensity, duration and altitude which should be taken care by including hydration drinks and gels.

Eating pre-run:

The pre-event meal is vital to keep the fuel stores full. Consuming low fiber foods, reducing high protein or high fat foods and using easily digestible foods like fruits, fruit smoothies, peanut butter, creamed rice, etc. are advised to be included.

Eating during run:

As the race distance increases there is an increased need for additional fuel (carbohydrate) and electrolytes during the event and so one should include hydration electrolyte drinks and energy gels which will keep the energy to endure the race. Having 30g of CHO per hour is recommended in the run.

Nutrition for elite runners

Eating post-run:

High-intensity training sessions, races or long runs deplete glycogen stores, so consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal/snack soon after finishing will the run is very important. Including fluids and nutrient rich foods is very essential. This includes fast absorbing carbs and first class proteins and healthy fats. For example: Chicken Sandwiches, Eggs with spinach and avocado, yogurt with fruits,etc.

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Sayali Naik

-Expert and Writer