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MH VIRTUAL RUN: How To Eat Right Before A Run

  • Rise And Shine!
    1 / 3 Rise And Shine!

    You may not love getting up early, but mornings are often the best time to run – especially during the hottest months. And since races usually start in the morning, most runners have to run early, at least once in a while.

    But it can be hard to fuel up properly. Pack in too much and you’ll risk stomach problems. Eat too little and you could bonk a few kilometres in.

    Related: MH VR Run Tips: How To Prevent Dehydration

    “You’ve been fasting and dehydrating all night,” says Kate Davis, an American sports dietitian. “It’s important to find some way to replenish before doing anything that requires a lot of energy.”

    How exactly you do that depends on a few things: how much time you have, how long you plan to run, and how well you tolerate exercising on a full (or partially full) tank. That last one you’ll have to figure out through a bit of trial and error. For the first two, use these rules as your guide.

    Related: MH VR Run Tips: Beginner’s Guide To A Running Challenge

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  • 30 Minutes Before You Run
    2 / 3 30 Minutes Before You Run

    Snoozed through your alarm? Before heading out the door, eat about 25g of carbs, says Kate. Try a small banana, a serving of dry cereal, or even a Jell-O cup. Any more than that and some runners will risk gastrointestinal distress. “Think of it as a pre-workout snack,” she adds. “If you’re running for less than an hour, this plus water is probably all you’ll need.”

    Related: MH VR Run Tips: How To Survive Your Next Marathon

    For longer runs, try to wake up a bit earlier. “If you’re planning a 40km run, you want at least an hour to fuel up, use the bathroom and settle your stomach,” says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre in the US and co-author of Run Your Butt Off.

    If that doesn’t happen, don’t cram in a larger meal. Instead, have that same pre-workout snack, and supplement it with a sports drink, gel or gummies every 30 to 45 minutes mid-run. “It’s best to start with a manageable amount,” says Leslie, “and refuel as you burn through that.”

    Related: MH VR Run Tips: 7 Common Running Mistakes And How To Correct Them

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  • The Hour Before You Run
    3 / 3 The Hour Before You Run

    Now’s the time to fill up with a more substantial breakfast containing about 50g of carbohydrates and about 300 to 400 calories. “With that much time to kill beforehand, you’re bound to get hungry early in your run if you don’t eat something substantial,” says Kate.

    Aim for a fist-size serving of food, says Leslie. Carbs are still key, especially for shorter runs; toast with honey or jam, a pancake or waffle, or a bowl of oatmeal are all safe bets.

    Related: MH VR Run Tips: 15 Tips For First Time Runners

    If you’re fuelling for a longer run, though, adding protein – like two tablespoons of peanut butter, a glass of milk or a hardboiled egg – will help sustain your energy.

    Think beyond typical breakfast foods, too: “I know runners who have great success with cold pizza or warmed-up rice with chicken broth or soya sauce in the mornings,” says Leslie.

    Related: MH VR Run Tip: How To Tie Your Running Shoe To Prevent Blisters

    For more information on Men’s Health Virtual Run, visit www.menshealth.com.sg/vr, sign up for FREE and stand to win $15,000 of exciting prizes! 

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