NRC

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Bonking during a run is absolutely no fun. But we’ve all been there. Regardless of whether your stomach starts to churn at mile 2 (big breakfast?), or you make it to mile 15 and then become a little lightheaded (forgot to bring along an energy gel?), it hurts all the same. And both you and your workout suffer the consequences. The good news is that proper nutrition can help prevent a lot of these scenarios from ever happening in the first place. And our Nike+ Run Club (NRC) experts are here to help. “Nutrition is crucial for runners. Eating well can help you create the right physiological conditions for high performance, adapt to high-intensity training, fuel your training and races and recover from all your workouts.” —Nike Performance Council member John Berardi, PhD, CSCS, a founder of Precision Nutrition [link: precisionnutrition.com] What you choose to consume before, during and after you run depends on several different factors. For example, how far are you running? How hard are you pushing yourself for that distance? What do you like to eat? What upsets your stomach? Unfortunately, there is no magic solution or diet for everyone to follow: What works for one runner—elite or not—won’t necessarily work for you. The only real way to know what nutrition plan will be best for you come race day is to test foods, drinks and gels/chews out in training first. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

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PRE-WORKOUT “For most training sessions, your pre-workout nutrition is easy: You can either have a normal meal a few hours before you exercise, or you can have a smaller meal at least 30 minutes before you start your workout,” said Berardi. Do whichever works best for you personally. If you opt for the "normal meal," try incorporating 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1 or 2 fist-sized portions of veggies, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2 thumb-sized portions of fat. If you opt for the "smaller meal," try something easily digestible, like one of Berardi’s smoothies (below). The biggest thing is to stick with foods that you eat regularly and know won't upset your stomach.

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DURING YOUR RUN “If you’re running for less than two hours, your main focus should be on staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. However, if you’re going to be out on the road (or trail) longer than that, or if it’s particularly hot and you’re sweating a lot, you need to replace some calories and electrolytes along the way,” said Berardi.
For events more than 2 hours long, sipping on a sports drink can be a huge help, he said. Try making your own with 15g protein (1/2 scoop of protein powder) mixed with 30-45g carbs (1 scoop of sports drink powder) and 2 cups of water.Another option is to consume a gel, chews or another electrolyte-replacement product of your choice (should contain sodium, potassium, calories and carbs) every 45 minutes to an hour.

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POST-WORKOUT “If you don’t eat anything within two hours after your run, it could slow your recovery and negatively effect your next-day performance,” said Berardi. His general recommendation is to consume a balanced meal (made up of real food) within an hour or so of completing your workout. Aim for something that contains 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1 or 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2 thumb-sized portions of fats, along with a low-calorie beverage, like water. If you don’t feel hungry, or have a hard time eating a big meal after a tough training session—don’t worry, that’s okay. Simply try one of the recovery smoothie recipes below, instead.

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ALL OF THE TIME “Eating a healthy, balanced diet, which consists of a mix of protein, veggies, minimally-processed carbs and ‘good’ fats, and contains foods that you can easily tolerate, is what most runners should strive for,” said Berardi. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day (if you’re in training, aim for 3 to 4 liters), don’t overdo it on the carbs or supplements, and listen to your body. Bottom line: The better you eat, the better you’ll feel. And the better you feel, the better you’ll run. #NRC