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Fueling for a 12km run

Andrea Gilbey - Nutrition expert, dietician and runner explains why the correct fuel is so important.

We exercise to improve our health and wellbeing but it’s always more fun if you have a goal when you are exercising, such as, aiming to run the Hollywood Private Hospital 12km HBF Run for a Reason.  For some of you this will be the longest distance you have run and it can be quite daunting.

As a dietitian and a runner, I am often asked what is the best way to prepare, nutritionally, leading up to such an event and how to recover after the event.

 

Poached Eggs

Think of your body like a car - you wouldn’t drive a long distance without filling it up with fuel. Here are some important points to remember;

Leading up to the Event

You will need plenty of energy for during your training period - a diet that contains carbohydrates (from wholegrain breads, cereals and pasta) moderate amounts of protein (lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs) and a small amount of fat (from oily fish, poly and monounsaturated fats and oils) and plenty or fresh fruit and vegetables.  This will ensure sufficient energy, body function, muscle repair and an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.

Fluid Needs

You should be adequately hydrated on a daily basis during training and  Water is the best fluid for that.  Drinks containing some carbohydrate such as sports drinks can be used during or after training for events lasting longer than one hour or on very hot days when you may sweat more.  Always consider the temperature and the length of training. 
 
Eating/Drinking Pre-Event

Eat a light carbohydrate-based small meal or snack 1-2 hours before the run (cereal and milk, toast with jam or honey) plus a glass of water.  Practice how it feels to run a long distance after eating various pre-run meals.

Eating/Drinking During the Event

For 12km run extra nutrition during the event is not required.   There are water/drink points along the run and a few sips at each of these should be sufficient. 
 
Recovery

Eat a carbohydrate-based snack containing some protein within half an hour of finishing the run, for example, a muesli bar, smoothie or yoghurt.  Eat some healthy food 2-3 hours post event, such as poached egg or baked beans on wholegrain toast.  Don’t forget to rehydrate.

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