The Five Key Nutrition Tips To Running A Successful, Injury-Free 5k Run!
The week before your race:
Nutrition leading up to the day of the competition is crucial in having an optimal race day. Avoiding refined sugars and foods that are loaded with sodium can help reduce bloating and water retention. Having a balanced meal slightly richer in carbohydrates the day before the competition can increase glycogen stores and maximize energy during race day. One of the staples in many athletes is to have foods rich in complex carbohydrates with a balance of protein and fat. Examples include salads, eggs, lean chicken, fish, whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, veggies etc)
Fluid intake before, during and after the race is integral for optimal performance and recovery. The days before competition it’s recommended you sip on water throughout the day to help keep hydrated and for the body to become accustomed to the water intake. Contrary to popular belief, sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are not needed past 1-hour of activity. Dependence and usage of such drinks are strictly optional. Electrolytes and sugars within the drinks can be found in natural food sources instead. Drinking sips of water during and before the event are also recommended to stay adequately hydrated but nothing in excess that will cause bloating.
The days leading up to the event are great opportunities to prep your body for your run. As mentioned previous Carb-loading excessively isn’t needed. But having a meal higher in complex carbohydrates is optimal the day and night before the event. On competition day a meal that is easily digested is recommended. Simple carbohydrates such as white rice, bagels, and fruit smoothies are recommended as a pre race meal, as simple carbohydrates will give you the quick energy needed to provide energy for the race. Foods like bananas are also a great source of electrolytes to prevent cramping.
Classically within the first hours of finishing a race, your glycogen stores are depleted. Replenishing them with fast acting carbohydrate such as fruits, and white rice are great to replenish glycogen stores. As well as increasing fluid intake to replenish lost fluids, and foods rich in potassium and sodium and other electrolytes to prevent cramping.
Things to avoid:
Avoid excessive consumption of sugary soft drinks and refined sugars (ie candy bars). Complex carbs are recommended days leading up to the event and simple carbs right before the event. Avoiding excessive fluid consumption is also recommended to avoid bloating and hyper hydration.
All the above are tips recommended for all skill level athletes, from beginners running their first 5k to marathon runners, everyone can benefit from these simple tips and suggestions.
By Hassan Mahmood