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The Runner’s Menu

The Runner’s Menu

Many of us are well into training for local spring running events like the Vancouver Sun Run, Victoria’s Times Colonist 10K, Kamloops’ Boogie the Bridge or the Prince George Run for Rural Medicine. Running is a great way to get your recommended physical activity and a balanced diet is an important part to consider.

Here are some food and drink tips for before, during and after your big race. This goes for training sessions around 60 minutes or less as well.

Before the race:

  • Hydrate. Between 2-4 hours before the race drink 375-500 ml (1.5-2 cups) of water. You’ll know you are hydrated if your urine is light in colour. If your urine is super yellow, drink another 250-375 ml (1-1.5 cups) of water 1 hour before the race.
  • Stay fueled and give yourself time to digest. Some people (like me) get discomfort if they eat before a run. To avoid this, eat a meal 2-3 hours before or have a snack 1-2 hours before the race. Include mostly carbohydrate (for example banana or toast), some protein (for example egg or yogurt) and not too much fat. You can try a liquid snack like a fruit and yogurt smoothie that will digest quickly.

During the race:

  • Stay hydrated with water. For runs under 60 minutes, water is usually the best choice. Drink enough fluids to replace the sweat you are losing. But, don’t overdo it. Try sipping on your water every 10-15 minutes.
  • Skip extra protein, sports drinks, sports foods, or special powders. Among other benefits, physical activity helps balance the energy we get from the food we eat. Energy dense sports drinks and foods can tip the balance towards too much energy and protein. They can also be pricey!
  • Only opt for a sports drink if you are sweating a lot (like on a hot day or when exercising at high intensity). Sports drinks are designed to give you energy and nutrients to replace those lost in sweat. Most of us don’t need the extra carbohydrates packed into these drinks.
  • Pass on energy drinks altogether. They are not the same as sports drinks and are not helpful for exercise.

After the race (Whoop!):

  • Rehydrate. Let your thirst be your guide. Water is great. You will also get hydration from the foods and beverages you eat to refuel.
  • Eat a balanced meal within 60 minutes. Choose a meal focused on vegetables, fruit, and whole grains to replenish your energy stores and include a serving of meat or meat alternatives (for example, fish, chicken or beans) to provide some protein to rebuild your muscles. A balanced meal will help your body recover and be ready for the rest of your day.

Are your kids also taking part in a fun run? Check out this great resource about Fueling the Young Athlete.

If you’re a performance athlete training for endurance or speed, you likely have increased hydration and nutritional needs. Visit Dietitians of Canada for more information on endurance exercise or call HealthLink BC by dialing 8-1-1 to speak to a Registered Dietitian.

Race Day Breakfast Smoothie Recipe 

This year I’m running the Sun Run, so on race morning I’m planning to have 500 ml (2 cups) of water about 3 hours before the race (that’s 6 am!) and 500 ml (2 cups) of smoothie about 2 hours before the race. Here’s what I’m going to put into my smoothie.

This recipe makes about 1 litre (4 cups) of smoothie, or 2 x 500 ml (2 cup) servings.

250 ml (1 cup) 1% or skim milk or unsweetened fortified soy beverage
250 ml (1 cup) 1% or non-fat plain yogurt or alternative
250 ml (1 cup) 100% fruit orange juice
1 ripe banana
125 ml (½ cup) frozen raspberries
Water as needed to blend
Ice if desired

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Related blogs:

Running Race Preparation
Ensure Success From the Start Line
Your Guide to Coconut Water

Recommended resources:

HealthLink BC: Energy and Sports Drinks
HealthLink BC: Energy Drinks
BC Dairy Association: Sport Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada: Sports Hydration
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology: Fluid




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