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  • Writer's pictureDr Susan Baxter

Long distance running….?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

QU from Kirstin: What sort of food would you carry in ur pack if running long distance? Plz I need so tips on what to eat while running Ans: Ow wow nice work on reaching the kind of distances you mention (42 k!!) That takes time training and commitment. This requires a multi-faceted nutritional strategy to support both training and your actual event.

To have gotten to 42k you would have high training intensities and volumes for most of the training season, so energy intake must be sufficient to support recovery and adaptation. Low pre-exercise muscle glycogen (or not having enough Carbs in your body) reduces high-intensity performance, so you must stay on top of having enough carbs on a daily basis both for training, and recovery! There is strong evidence to suggest that the timing, type, and amount of protein intake influence post-exercise recovery and adaptation.

In endurance sports, low carbs (3-15% of daily macronutritents) have been shown to impair performance (Coggan & Coyle, 1991; Maughan & Poole, 1981)… so id keep them as high as possible after ensuring adequate protein intake (see earlier calculation for athletic intake minimums!). Research by Bergstrom and colleagues (1967) showed that a high carbohydrate diet led to augmented glycogen stores, which meant a longer time to exhaustion than after a low carbohydrate diet. To put that simply: you need definitely be putting carb ingestion up there as highly as possible whilst still hitting the minimum requirement of protein. Current recommendations on carbohydrate for training from Burke et al. (2011) for endurance athletes is 5.5 g carbs per kg body weight per day.(to help you work out amount).

Pre training: something fast absorbed and not too heavy on the stomach and digestion. Many people find that bananas are quite taxing to digest, but a piece of fruit and a fast acting protein such as a Whey protein isolate (WPI) or a whey protein concentrate (WPC) is a good idea. Steer clear of fats as they will slow digestion.

During training: you need something that is low residue and extremely fast absorbed in the form of carbohydrates which is not going to cause gastrointestinal discomfort: so this is why many runners have ‘gels’ which they use. My sister uses ‘natural confectionery company jelly lollies’… The dextrose is absorbed faster than fructose, however you can look at adding perhaps fruit juice to your water pack (which would be better than fruit as there is no fibre in juice).

Post training: A protein shake (as whey is a very fast absorbing protein to help repair muscles, eg Rule One Proteins whey! with a source of fast acting carbs in there (think dextrose) with some slower ones, like maybe oats. Having it in the form of a shake means you also get water in your system to help hydration levels (and assist with the carb absorption).

You also need to prioritize replenishing glycogen stores to help assist with recovery so that your next planned session will not be compromised (and your body can recuperate to the best of its ability before then).

Remember your other meals should be well considered too: adequate protein is important to repair your muscles and help in the prevention of injuries. Also, check my post about protein and carbs.

Read the rest of my blog for all things fitness and reach out to chat!

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