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Eat to Run, Eat for Your Run, Eat to Win

Nutrition for Running

Nutrition for Running

By: Melissa Farrell

April 2013, I decided to run the Labor of Love 50 miler for the first time.  Having completed the 50K the previous year, I knew the course and most importantly I knew when and where I would be able to eat.  We drove to the race start and as I prepared to get set up for the start, I realized something was missing.  I had managed to come without my water bottle.  I had packed my drop bags, I had the food I would need, but without adequate hydration I was screwed.  50 miles, nothing in hand, this was not going to go well.

With nothing to carry to keep my energy up, it was time for a quick change of plans.  I made a decision that the only way I was to make it through 9 hours of hilly hell was to take advantage of every aid station.  I made it a mission to make sure I hydrated every 4-5 miles.  With no other option, I went into it and hoped for the best.  9 hours, LOTS of bananas, and a lot of electrolytes later, I finished the race in 2nd place and felt great!  Well, great is a relative term, but I felt pretty damn good!

Any time you are preparing for a race, whether it be a 10K, a half marathon, or an ultra, it is IMPERATIVE to have a plan in place for your run.  This doesn’t mean picking up some protein bars on your way to the race start or swinging by Krispy Kreme for some “quick sugars”.  It means taking the time to test out different foods during your training runs.  It means tweaking your regimen where need be BEFORE race day.  A lot of runners make the mistake of getting to the start line with either no plan in place or an untested plan.  A bad move that may lead worse results.  I have done 5K’s to 50 milers to Duathlons and I can say that each race was varied in terms of nutrition and how you plan for it.  A 5K may not warrant any race time nutrition, but instead may require a plan in place for before the run.  A marathon may require a pre-race plan as well as a plan for race time hydration.  A 50 miler requires a plan for the week before as well as a plan for hydration AND nutrition during the run.  I don’t know anyone who can run for 8+ hours without eating or drinking anything.  No WAY that will go well.

So how do you test out different systems during your training runs?  The best time is during your long runs.  These runs tend give you the time to gauge when you need to start your nutrition, when you become depleted so you can plan for these moments, and amounts or types of products to use when it comes to race day.  If you plan on running for longer then an hour, you generally will need some type of electrolytes and/or sugars to replenish your energy stores or you will feel the depletion.  General rule is about 4-8 oz every 20 mins of your run(speed will have something to do with the variance).  There is also hydrating leading UP TO your run.  You cannot make-up for dehydration on your run and trying to front load with fluids will only lead to sloshing and discomfort during your runs.  If you run until you’re thirsty, chances are you will be suffering the rest of the race.

I know a number of people who will tell you that eating a gel substance that tastes like espresso is not on their highlight list of foods they love, but I will tell you when you need it, you’ll be thankful.  Why else would I pick up a GU off of the ground during a 20 mile run and GLADLY eat it?  Look, if you’re hungry and depleted, you’ll do just about anything!  There is no set rule as far as “this is THE food you need to eat during a run”, there is a lot of flexibility and each runner is different.  My go to’s?  Bananas, animal crackers(a childhood fave and easy to hold while running), gummy bears, and gatorade.  I will gladly eat a GU if it is the only option or if I need something quick!  You need to test out different foods during your training runs.  Training is exactly what is says, TRAINING for your big event.  In ALL aspects!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners
www.LasVegasRunners.com

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Look Into Your Future: Setting Your Running Goals for the New Year

Running Goals

Running GoalsBy: Jeremy Wallace

I remember the day I ran my first big race, the 2009 Portland Marathon.  That day I had dreams of qualifying for the holy grail of amateur distance running in the US, The Boston Marathon.  I had a coach and trained hard in the months leading up to the race.  I was able to run one 6:50 mile and had some mileage on my legs to back it up.  Race day I set out at a 7:10 pace which would put me in the finishing chute in 3:07.  I felt that with some grit I’d have no problem hitting my Boston qualifying time of 3:10.  There was only one problem.  It’s name was Mile 17.  I hit a wall so hard it might as well have been made from brick.  By mile 18 I was walking some.  By mile 21, I was asking the nice Portland spectators for food… seriously.  The truth is I wasn’t in shape to run a 3:10 or even a 3:30 that day and if I knew then what I know now, perhaps my pace would’ve been a bit more conservative (…or maybe not.  I’m a hard-headed man, after all.  Just ask Melissa).  That first race I learned a hard lesson.  Know what you’re capable of in a marathon and shoot directly for that time.

So, how do you figure out what you’re capable of?  As it turns out, you don’t need a crystal ball.  We can predict your marathon (or 1/2 marathon, or 5K) finishing time pretty accurately based on your current fitness.  For example, my 6:50 mile a few weeks prior meant that, with proper training, nutrition etc, I would be capable of running a 3:49 marathon.  My actual finishing time in Portland?  3:51.  Don’t believe me?, look it up:)  These days I can tell you with 95% certainty that if you can run a 10K in 49 minutes and you train properly, you can beat 4 hours in the marathon, or if your 5K time is 30 minutes, your dream of running a 2 hour half marathon isn’t ready to become reality.  Here’s the thing:  With targeted training, proper nutrition and a well-laid plan, you’re not that far off.

So what does that mean for you, your training and setting goals for 2014?  When looking forward into the New Year, be honest with yourself and be ready to set realistic goals.  What’s your current fitness?  How hard are you willing to work this year?  Do you have an actual plan or are you just winging it and hoping for a miracle on race day?  If you’re happy with your current fitness level and not looking to improve much over the next year, sorry for wasting your time.  Stop reading now and go for a run.  If you are seriously ready to take your fitness up a notch, here are a few tips:

– Have a plan and make it specific.  As in life, a dream without a plan probably isn’t going to happen.  That being said, the best running plans are ones that are specific to you and your fitness.  It’s difficult to follow a generic plan and have real success.  Need help?  Ask me.

– Test yourself semi-regularly.  The people who know exactly what they’re capable of, are those who test themselves every once in a while.

– Be ready to gradually improve your performance by occasionally stepping outside your comfort zone.  Running fitness develops over months, not one workout.

– Work on your limiting performance factor.  Strength, flexibility, running form and nutrition are super important in distance running.  Guess what?  Runners are notoriously weak, inflexible and have crappy eating habits.  I know I’ll get some flak for this one, but I’ll save the explanation for another blog post.

– Don’t forget the mental aspect.  Distance running requires a degree of suffering.  Look for it and be ready to embrace.

– Be realistic and patient.  If you’ve run 10 marathons and your PR is 5:30, a sub-three hour event this year isn’t likely.  Next year?  Eh, anything could happen.

– Think big.  You’re capable of achieving more than you think.  Just be ready to put in the work.

So what’s the number one thing I want you to take away from this?  Have a specific goal with a specific plan for success to match and you won’t end up begging for food in Portland.

Happy Running
Jeremy Wallace
2:51 marathoner
Las Vegas Runners Coach and Certified Personal Trainer
www.lasvegasrunners.com

USATF and RRCA Running Coach, Jeremy Wallace