Keeping you fuelled for the long run

A recent article in the Independent newspaper reported that there are some two million people in the UK who run on a regular basis. These range from those who are just starting on a fitness journey with a gentle jog round the block each morning to serious long-distance athletes to the thousands who fall somewhere in between.

As well as rapidly becoming the nation’s most popular way of keeping fit, running is also a method of choice when it comes to raising essential funds charity and at Focused Nutrition, we are always eager to support worthy causes. But wherever you run and for whatever reason, our nutritious snacks are just what’s needed to keep you going. Let’s see where they fit into your body’s broader fuel needs when you are planning on hitting the road, track or trail.

Understand your needs

When you run, your body burns approximately 100 calories per mile. So if you’re running 20 miles per week, you’ll need to increase calorie intake by about 2000. Of course, if the idea is to lose a few pounds, you might want to decrease that slightly, but don’t overdo it or you simply won’t have the energy to perform.

Don’t try running on empty

There’s nothing like a run first thing in the morning to blow away the cobwebs and get you ready for the day. It can be tempting to leap out of bed and into your running shoes and get out there to cover some miles before breakfast. You’ll certainly work up an appetite, but “running on empty” in this way is not going to do anything for your performance or enjoyment. In fact, you will risk hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), resulting in dizziness, headache and light-headedness. Sure, you’re not going to want to eat a huge cooked breakfast before going for a run, but a small bowl of some oatmeal-based food like porridge or muesli will be ideal. Oatmeal is something of a superfood for runners, as it contains complex carbohydrates and protein, while having a low glycaemic index, meaning energy is slowly released as you exercise.

Stay hydrated

A loss of just two percent in hydration can have a noticeable effect on your performance. Little and often is the key here. A water bottle that snaps comfortably to your belt is one of the best investments you will ever make. Don’t make the mistake of forcing yourself to drink more water than you need before you start to “stock up” – it will only make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Don’t delay, refuel straight away

Studies have found that in the 30 minutes immediately after exercise, the body is particularly receptive to replenishing its stores of glycogen. So before you go take a shower and freshen up, use this opportunity to enjoy a carb-based snack. Ideally, aim for one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. Alternatively, simply have a 50g snack and you will be in the right area to optimise recovery.