Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Run Day: Pre-Run Fuel

Welcome to my very first edition of Sunday Run Day!!! Over the past few months, I've realized just how much I L.O.V.E. to post about running and my running journey. I've also come to realize by the number of hits and comments that these posts get that my followers like to read them as much as I love to write them! Thus the idea for Sunday Run Day sparked.


I'm hoping to change the logo soon to something cool, but I haven't gotten that far yet. Now I realize that Sunday Run Day may sound a little silly and a bit like Sunday Fun Day. Well, my theory is that Sunday is the best day for me to post about running because most long distance runners choose to tackle their long runs on Sunday. Why you ask? Race day is generally on a Sunday! You want to make your training just as close to race day as possible because your body does its best with handling what it's already used to. Since I spend Sunday morning waking up around 6am in order to hit the trail/road and check my run off of my to-do list (yes, I really do that to-do lists and I live by them) before church, I spend the rest of the day on a post run high and it seems to be the most appropriate time to write about my passion!

Now that I've spent a good amount of time telling you about why I am starting Sunday Run Day, let's get to the real meat of the post. Last week Stephanie asked me what I like to eat pre-morning runs. This is very important to me because I may be the biggest fan of breakfast e.v.e.r. Runners can generally attribute their great (or poor) performance to what they do (or don't eat) before their runs. Now I'll tell you what I eat, but more importantly what your body generally needs before a morning run. Remember that everyone is different and you'll be able to find out what your body wants with a little trial and error.

Carbohydrates
When it comes to running, carbohydrates are the key to your pre-run nutrition. Even if you're just doing a few miles, it's recommended to at least have 4-5 grams of carbs in order to boost your Krebs cycle in the morning. This is what kicks up your metabolism, so the earlier it gets revving, the more calories your body burns through out the day. Thus, 10 grams of carbs before you run is ideal even if you aren't really one for pre-run breakfast. Good pre-run carbs are bagels, toast, cereal (wet or dry), granola, sports/nutrition bars and fruit.

Length/Distance
The amount of time or distance you're running in the morning should play a big role in the amount/what you decided to eat pre-run. If you're only going for 20-30 minutes, hydration is more important and maybe water plus orange juice or a sports drink will provide you with the amount of nutrition your body needs. If you're taking off on a 45 minute run you should hydrate and grab a granola bar or a piece of toast to get your body going. The most important time to fuel up pre-run is when you're tackling your long distance (Sunday's for me!). This is when you need to prepare your body for what's to come. The last thing any runner wants is to bonk due to lack of fuel before or during your run. It is of most importance to figure out just what works for your body on these long run days. In case you're wondering, here's my long run pre-race fuel up! I am a big fan of peanut butter toast with sliced banana on top. It can also just be peanut butter toast with a banana on the side or even peanut butter and banana. All of these foods are easy on my stomach and help me get the proper carb-protein ratio that my body craves.

Timing
Another factor that should influence what/how much you eat is the amount of time your can allow your body to digest before hitting the pavement. Most runners try to eat at least 1 hour before starting their workout. If you have this kind of time, feel free to eat a bit more before your long run. If you only have about 15-30 minutes to digest, I would definitely take the amount of food you eat down a bit and may intake some additional fluids that are easier for your body to process. I generally eat about 30-45 minutes before my run. I know it sounds hard, but waking up 15 minutes earlier to give your body some additional digestion time can be worth it!

Bottom Line
Carbs are important to fuel your run. They are even more important to get your metabolism revved up in the AM. Try to have around 300 calories of carbs before a long run (9+ miles, intake also varies upon body type/weight). This will give you the energy you need and the foundation to feel better before, during and after your run.

I hope this helps those of you that are wondering what or if you should be eating in the mornings before you head for your work out! I am a big advocate of morning workouts because I am a morning person and I always feel ready to tackle the day after a good morning workout. Work days wear me out and sometimes I just feel like getting home and resting for the evening. Morning workouts allow me to do this without feeling guilty! Still wondering just how important breakfast is for everyone? Take a look at this article from Runner's World called A Full Morning and maybe rethink breakfast the next time you head out to start your day (workout or not!).

Also, please note that I am by no means a nutritionist. I am simply relaying the knowledge I have from years of running, teaching group exercise and reading A LOT of articles/books about nutrition and exercise.

I hope everyone enjoyed my very first of editions of Sunday Run Day and I look forward to sharing my love and passion for running at least once a week! I am completely open to suggestions on new topics that y'all would like to hear about. I promise a lot of research and heart will go into these posts and I'll try to give you the most valid information that I know is out there! In two weeks, I'll also be able to give everyone a post run recap of my half marathon in Philadelphia! Feel free to leave comments! Let me know what you like, didn't like and what you want to hear about!

Here are a few other posts from me about running!
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap
I Run for Me {personal favorite!}
Just Listen
Happy National Running Day {About Vibram 5 Finger Shoes}
What is a Runner?
Running: Pittsburgh vs. Houston

Until next time...
With love and God bless,
Amy

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