The Runners Diet

You’re a runner and signed up for a race.  Maybe you picked a slightly faster running pace than normal and are now spending your weeknights preparing at the track.  But are you forgetting a secret weapon? The Runners Diet.

If you plan to run faster, you not only need to eat more calories, but you also need to eat the right calories.  This is where the importance of the runners diet comes into play. Don’t fall into the classic pattern of running 10 miles (burning around a 1,000 calories) and thinking you’ve earned a few or more alcoholic drinks.  This approach will dramatically hinder your ability to increase your speed.  Usually, after an aggressive or long run, your body is dehydrated and lacking vital electrolytes.  By consuming even one alcoholic drink, you further damage your body by increasing your dehydration levels and further depleting your electrolytes. 

What is the runner’s diet secret to getting faster?  There is no magic pill, but a few considerations will help.

Salt - If you’ve ever noticed a white residue on your clothes after a run, you are losing salt.  A proper runners diet seeks to replace this salt. Your sweat naturally contains sodium, so the more you sweat, the more sodium you loose.  Losing too much sodium (hyponatremia) can have deadly effects.  When you sweat, most people grab water, but what you should really be drinking is a sports drink with sodium.  Many sports drinks on the market today have sodium, but I prefer Nuun.  Nuun is a low calories tablet that dissolves in water to give you the extra sodium you need.  It’s great to take along with you when completing any run. 

Omega 3’s - As a runner, you are often tired, your muscles ache, and joints are sore.  This pain may having you thinking of taking a Tylenol or two, but before you do, try a fish oil.  Fish oil contains omega 3’s, which naturally reduce inflammation in the body.  Fish oils are natural and a much safer bet for joint pain.  Maximizing the runners diet might mean eating more fish, or it could mean taking a fish oil supplement. Right now, there is some medical evidence stating that Tylenol can actually hinder muscle growth.  So, while it might bring temporary relief, it will hurt you in the long run.  And adding fish oils to any runner’s diet will not only help with inflammation, but also can help your heart, brain, and skin!  

Protein – Give your muscles a break by giving them protein.  Milk is to the bones, like protein is to muscles.  If runner’s added more protein to their diet, their muscles would recover faster.  Not sure on what amount to add to a runner’s diet?  There is a fairly simple formula.  First, convert your body weight to kilograms by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2.  Then multiple your weight in kilograms by .8 grams.  Viola!  And that is how many grams of protein you need per day. 

In conclusion, adopting this runner’s diet will help you recover faster and train harder.  And in the end you will be faster.  The hardest part is keeping motivation to eat healthy after a long run, but with the right frame of mind, you will be able to stay on the right track!