Category Archives: Nutrition

When should I eat before a run?

1 hour.

2 hours.

3 hours.

1 hour and 16 minutes.

Truth is, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. You need to experiment and work what’s best for you. You’ll soon find out. Maybe 1 hour before won’t be enough time for you to digest – you’ll get a stitch and feel sicky. Maybe over two hours is too much? You’ll get stomach cramps and feel hungry.

For me, I leave it 2 hours if it is a race or a hard training session. I’ll leave it about an hour and a half for anything light.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I swear by porridge for breakfast. Here is my post on porridge for breakfast: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/porridge-for-brekki/ And here is the link for my TOP 5 NUTRITION TIPS https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/my-top-5-tried-and-tested-nutrition-tips/

For some reason, one day, my porridge 2 hours before didn’t seem enough. Before a hard training session, I experimented and also had a banana 1 hour before. Good news for me: no stitch and lots of energy! I have now added this into my pre-race routine too.

However, another experiment didn’t go so well. 20 minutes before starting a long run I was very peckish so had a few nuts (not even very many, I literally had about 3 almonds). The result: sharp shooting stitch for most of the run. Never again.

It is vital you know what works for you. Experimenting or risking trying a new eating-time on ‘Race day’ has the potential to end badly. Experiment at home when there is nothing at stake. (Speaking of steak, have that kind of food after running, not before). Generally, it’s best to stick to foods rich in carbohydrates before – think oats, cereals, toast etc.

If you have no idea, I’d try my method first as I don’t think it’s too extreme. (Eat two hours before race). But like I said, there is no set rule. A friend from my running club in Thirsk can happily eat 30/40 mins before. On the other hand, Kate Carter (Running editor for The Guardian) http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog swears by eating 3 hours before.

Have fun finding your perfect method! (hopefully without too many stitches and sluggish runs along the way).

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

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Gu Brew review

I have a sensitive stomach and energy gels do not agree with me. Perhaps I have a picky palate too as most energy drinks leave my tongue feeling furry and me feeling queasy. I do not want to drink a artificial syrup, thank you very much.

However, being brave and managing to force some liquid sugar down my neck may have made my post half-marathon dehydration avoidable. (Read about my ‘feeling like death’ disaster here: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/california-part-ii/ )

If only there was a way of feeding my body more electrolytes without swallowing down disgusting syrups…

HURRAH. A friend introduced me to ‘Gu Brew tablets.’ You put a tablet in a glass / bottle of water, give it a minute to dissolve and then guzzle / sip away.

https://guenergy.com/shop/hydration-drink-tabs 

You can buy them fairly cheaply on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/GU-Brew-Electrolyte-Tablets-Lemon/dp/B008823G2Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1451405949&sr=8-2&keywords=gu+brew+tablets

My favourite flavour is orange. Far from the plastic-y, artificial taste of some orange flavoured sports drinks, this version tastes light and resembles a diluted squash.

They are naturally sweet. Stevia is used as the sweetener, instead of an artificial sweetener like sorbitol, acesulfame potassium, or aspartame. If you’re a healthy, athletic person, putting chemicals into your body is never a great idea. Natural colours and flavours are used too.

Gu Brew gives you the salt your body needs. The Brew tablets use both sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate as sodium sources. More often, sports drinks are leaning towards these salt sources and away from sodium chloride (table salt) because they offer a less salty tasting result.

Each drink that you create contains 320 mg of sodium and 55 mg of potassium. These amounts line up nearly perfectly with what the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends for an optimal electrolyte balance in a sports drink.

I highly recommend Gu Brew tablets, if like me you find sports drinks / energy gels hard to digest.

Now I always make up an orange Gu-Brew to drink in the hour leading up to a race or a hard training session. It helps to keep me focused and floods my legs with endless energy.

 

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel healthier.

All the best,

Liv

 

 

My Top 5 tried and tested nutrition tips

Here are my top 5 tried and tested nutrition tips. Why not give them a go yourself? The extra banana an hour before a race might be the difference in scraping your new 10k PB? The chocolate milk may make you bounce back quicker for tomorrow’s session.
Of course, they might not all work for all of you. But they work for me! Please comment below to let me know how you get on…

1. Rise and shine to porridge
Porridge, in my opinion, is the best breakfast for a runner. Whether I’m training, racing or having a rest day – it’s always my go-to morning meal.
Why? It’s cheap, easy, tasty, filling and gives you bags of long lasting energy.
I make mine with semi-skimmed milk, honey and cinnamon.
You’ll often see ‘food bloggers’ showering their morning oats with 0% fat almond milk, chia seeds and goji berries. But I’m wanting good, honest fuel – not a weight loss programme.

2. Refuel with chocolate milk
This is my favourite. Not only does it taste good – it does you the world of good too.
Surely, a protein shake would be better though? Maybe not…
In three related studies, researchers compared the recovery benefits from drinking chocolate milk post-exercise to plain water and branded sports drinks. In high-endurance athletes, the results showed that a post-workout chocolate milk fix can result in:
Improved performance, quicker exercise adaptation and better body composition. The 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal for replenishing tired muscles. Not bad for a childhood favorite.

3. Pasta, pasta, makes you run faster!
I always have a big bowl of pasta the night before a race / an unusually heavy training session. Not so big that I will feel sick, but always a bigger helping than usual. My fave pasta dishes are – something with pesto / Quorn spag bol / spicy tomato and red pepper. All topped with parmesan, of course!

4. The pre-race routine
If you’ve read my other posts you’ll know that my pre race routine consists of – Porridge two hours before (if I cut it any finer I’ll get a stitch / feel sick / feel sluggish).
A banana one hour before. Then I’ll sip on a sports drink with added electrolytes.

5. Treat yourself
Don’t by a large Dominoes every night but NEVER feel bad for having a chocolate brownie / bag of salty crisps / indian take away / an extra helping of Grandma’s rhubarb crumble with custard and double cream.
Social media is the devil for making only ‘healthy’ ‘whole foods’ seem acceptable.
Be smart and ignore it.
You’re an athlete not a dieter.
Eat / drink what your body craves and be faster / fitter / happier / stronger for it.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

California Part II

Shall we do a half marathon today at altitude? Why not.

I realise this spontaneous attitude is actually a little cocky. In hindsight, it could also have been sheer stupidity. I had not been training for a half marathon (I was doing mileage geared around the 10k). However, I was fit and well and knew that my body could cope with 13.1 miles – it may just be rather slow, but hey ho.

‘Remember it’s at altitude. GO EASY’ I kept reminding myself.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and it was beautiful sunshine. I had carb-loaded the night before with a mountain of red pepper & tomato pasta. I gobbled up a hearty bowl of porridge in the morning (2 hours before race) and then 1 hour before the race it is my routine to have a banana and start to sip on a liquid with added electrolytes.

There was also a 5k race happening that day and at the start line of the half, the man with the microphone made me laugh so much when he said “IF Y’ALL SIGNED UP FOR THE 5K RACE, Y’ALL IN THE WRONG PLACE.”

TUMMY BUTTERFLIES ALERT. JITTERY FEET. Aaaaand the 13.1 miles at 9,000 ft begins!

I started off slow, holding myself back, taking deep gulps of fresh piney air and admiring the glistening sun on the lakes tucked between the rocky mountains. One man who was running alongside me said “pretty spectacular, huh?”
I agreed.
“WOW, you’re from England!?” He had instantly recognised my British accent.
“WOW. So do you, like, do many international races?”
(That sounded so cool).
I laughed and said no. I then proceeded to tell him that I had only ever done one half marathon before and I spontaneously signed up to do this one yesterday.
He literally couldn’t believe it. People train to do a half at altitude for yonks.
“Y’all the craziest fool I’ve ever met.”

As the lovely chatty American began to slow, I still felt fresh, so pushed on ahead.

Around mile 3.5 I was bored of holding back. Yes, this isn’t always the wisest thing and I’m not necessarily advising it – but I wanted to go – so I did.

Let the over-taking begin. I felt brilliant. Mile 4 to the finish, I didn’t get over taken once and it was an amazing feeling. I cannot explain why I felt so good. I think it was a combination of adrenaline from the beauty and excitement and the fact that I am on my own in California – I’m running a half marathon in the mountains – this is what dreams are made of…Let’s not forget I’ve also been training hard this last year. Not for a half marathon, no. But all those speed sessions / leisurely 10ks on the weekend must have helped enormously.

Mile 8-12 were my favourite. Speedier than ever, I was on some kind of running high.

The last mile hit me like a tonne of bricks and was hard. But I was so close!

When I saw the finish line, I wanted it so bad. The speakers were calling out names from “LA” “San Francisco” etc. When he got to my name, the “Thirsk in North Yorkshire” confused him so much. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, crossing that finish line and falling into Joe’s ecstatic hug wasn’t as happy as I had hoped. Like a sudden car crash, I, without warning, felt terrible.

I wanted to be celebrating with my medal and taking photos. Instead, I was on my knees, head over the toilet, trying to be sick. Not the glamorous glory I had imagined.

I then slumped, feeling sorry for myself in the medical tent. I was severely dehydrated. The buzz and adrenaline had completely masked it the whole way around. I didn’t even want to drink, but had to force it. About 3 hours later, after a tonne of electrolytes – I suddenly brightened up. THANK GOODNESS. Time to celebrate.

So, even if having the best experience of my life wasn’t enough. I found out some awesome news. Out of over a thousand runners, I came 2nd in my age category (13th woman over all).

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!

When I arrived home in England, they had posted me an award! I’m now dreaming of my next trip up in the mountains. I will return.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

Porridge for brekki

Yawn. Yes you’ve probably heard it time and time again but breakfast really IS the MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day.

Eating first thing will get your metabolism going, give you energy and keep you satisfied until that late morning snack / lunch. 

If you’re trying to be healthy, skipping breakfast is a no no. You need to nourish your body, not starve it. Also, research has shown that those that don’t have breakfast, actually put on weight. By missing meals, your body will go into starvation mode, so when you do next eat something, it will CLING onto the fats. Be an athlete, not a dieter. 

Here are my recommendations for a healthy breakfast:

A) Porridge with semi skimmed / full fat / almond milk. Topped with honey. Add blueberries and almonds for extra yumminess. (I am on a student budget so tend to stick to simply honey).

B) Cereals such as bran flakes and muesli with extra fruit and nuts. Try with almond milk for something a bit different (and for extra protein!) and dollop some full fat yogurt of your choice on top.

Eggs are also recommended for breakfast as they are rich in protein so will nourish your muscles and help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Personally, I prefer to have eggs for lunch. So you’ll have to be patient and wait for another post that will include some delicious egg recipes. 

I always have a large glass of water with breakfast and a green tea. Hydration is essential for a healthy body.

I’m not going to preach about what you should and shouldn’t have for breakfast. But I would suggest avoiding things very high in sugar such as chocolaty, sugar coated cereals. Sugary foods will give you a quick little boost but won’t substantially fill you up or give you long lasting energy. 

Personally, I have a very large portion for breakfast. I know I need a LOT to keep me going and give me enough energy for training. Think about how much you’re doing and how active you are and adjust your portion size accordingly. There’s no right or wrong. But be sensible and think how much YOU need. 

Don’t calorie count. When you have an active lifestyle your body has different needs. Be wise and make healthy choices. For example, brown granary bread has more calories than white bread, but granary bread has a higher nutritional value, more fibre etc. 

A filling, fresh, nutritional breakfast is essential for good health and progression in training.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv