Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Importance of Proper Fueling


This weeks' SPA Blogger Pros theme is training fuel-- specifically focusing on how you fuel before, during, and after a workout.

You have probably heard time and time again how important it is to properly fuel your body when you are putting in the minutes and miles. And that is great advice, but sometimes can be more difficult to put into practice than it would seem. Knowing what your body needs, how much, and when is almost as much art as it is science. 

Fueling for long distances has been the area I have struggled most with in my running journey. There is so much I could tell you about my trial and error over the past 5 years. But instead what I want to focus on is what works for me now. As you read this, keep in mind that it is by no means perfect and may not be the right course of action for you and your body. Always do what feels best for you :)

For my body, I don't do a whole lot of extra planning for runs or workouts unless they breach the 90 minute mark. I eat a fairly healthy well balanced diet (heavy on the fruit!) so most of the time I have no problem just getting up and going.

I like to say that I am a "real food runner". I don't do Gu's, Shot Blocks, gels, or other similar type products. The fakest fuel that I consume during long runs is Gatorade-- and I so desperately want a healthier alternative that will keep my blood sugar constant and provide electrolyte replenishment (I'd love any suggestions you may have! Except coconut water..tried it and hated it unfortunately). Anyway, we'll discuss liquid replenishment more in next weeks' post on hydration :) 

Being a "real food runner" has it's ups and downs. I never feel a sudden spike or drop in my energy or blood sugar. But, as you can guess, it is so much more difficult to carry!

So let's use a typical marathon training long run as an example, and I'll run you through my pre-, during, and post-workout fueling strategy. 

Run Distance - 18 miles
Average Pace - 10:00 min/mi
(hopefully this will be faster when I run MCM, but it's a good average)
Expected Completion Time - 3 hours
Day & Time - Sunday Morning

Pre-Run

Saturday Lunch
Chipotle Burrito Bowl

There are a lot of calories in this meal, most of which are good calories for a long run. I always get the brown rice, pinto beans, pepper & onions, a lot of lettuce, salsas, cheese, and sour cream. Sometimes I'll get steak, sometimes I'll forgo the meat and have guac instead. This meal is slightly superstitious for me. I almost always have a kick-ass run when I eat this the day prior. 

Saturday Dinner
Nothing Special

Usually keep dinner to a normal meal. Nothing too heavy, nothing greasy, and nothing my body isn't used to.

Sunday Breakfast
Granola Cereal w/ Milk
2 Scrambled Eggs (from our backyard hens!)
Fruit
Part of a Bagel

During

For long distance runs, I carry my Nathan Hydration Vest filled with a 50/50 water and Gatorade mixture. I drink at least every 10-12 minutes. Once I hit mile 6 of the run, roughly an hour in, I start eating and will alternating eating with drinking every 10-12 minutes (my typical walk breaks). So what does a "real food runner" eat on a long run? :)

Fruit (sometimes dried, sometimes fresh) and trail mix! I've eaten so many different types of fruit on my runs-- orange slices, blueberries, grapes, dried cranberries, dried figs. I've even shared my blueberries with a random runner during a trail race! Trail mix is a little more difficult to eat while running, but I really like what it does for my energy levels, so I'll eat just a little bit at a time and wash it down with a lot of water. And those little m&m's hidden in trail mix taste so yummy during a long run and give a little boost!

Post-Run

My post-run fueling is probably the least healthy aspect of my fueling. I just want to eat everything when I finish running for hours at a time! Anyone else feel that way?? I'm currently looking for a better post-run recovery beverage, so again, suggestions welcome (no shakeology suggestions please)! My current go-to is a big glass of ice cold chocolate milk and a grilled cheese sandwich-- specifically, Nick's amazing grilled cheese sandwich <3

Now it's your turn! How do you fuel for long workouts? What's your favorite post-workout snack? 
♥AK

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