When you’re training for an event like I am for Fight Cancer Foundation’s 2015 City2Surf team it’s important to make sure you’re fuelling your body correctly. There are lots of different theories about diet requirements and it can be confusing to know which advice is right for you.
To address some common questions, I speak to our Jade’s Life expert, Professor Tim Crowe for trustworthy training tips. As he is also a marathon runner (his typical week is 100km of training) so he really practices what he preaches when it comes to this area.
As you get more interested in training and diet you might come across a technique called ‘carb loading.’ This means that you increase your intake of carbohydrates in the theory that you need to build up the storage system of your body in preparation for an endurance event. However for a medium distance run such as City2Surf this isn’t always the case. It’s a common myth that you should have lots of carbs before an active day or event but in fact, your body can become sluggish with all the extra calories and may lead to weight gain.
Professor Crowe weighs in on the carb loading debate.
“Unless a person is going to be competing or training for more than 2 hours, there is no need to ‘carb load’ – just eat a normal diet. The only real danger of carb loading is the excuse it may give a person to eat everything and anything in sight, which if done consistently will likely add extra unneeded weight.”
As a vegetarian, protein is always on my mind and I make an effort to include it at every meal especially when training to run the City2Surf for TEAM Fight Cancer. So I asked Professor Crowe about how it can optimise my running training.
“Protein is very important at all stages in life, and especially during exercise training, which places additional stresses on the body. And it’s not just gym-training athletes who need additional protein, but runners too who need protein to help build and repair muscle and support the immune system.” He says.
He gives us his top 5 foods for a great training diet (vegetarian approved!):
1. Beans and legumes
These are a great a source of carbohydrate and fibre and also add protein to the diet rather than needing to only rely on ‘meat and dairy’.
2. Cruciferous vegetables
Vegetables in this family include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and cabbage. High in fibre, loaded with nutrients, and containing minimal calories, cruciferous vegetables give real bang for your nutritional buck.
Milk is an excellent recovery drink. High quality protein, carbohydrate, electrolytes and of course water all in the one drink.
Blueberries are a common ‘pin-up’ superfood, but there is plenty to be said for the entire berry family. Cranberries, raspberries, strawberries and even goji and acai berries (as whole foods, not the expensive juice supplements) are all great to be eating more of for their fibre and antioxidants.
5. Mixed nuts
A body that is using more energy will start to crave more food as fuel. The girls and I often joke about our ‘double breakfast’ days after a tough training session! This extra appetitie can lead to over eating or reaching for unhealthy sweets. When you’re training it’s even more important to be putting the right things into your body, otherwise it’s just empty calories being stored as fat, rather than utilised for your body to draw upon when it needs. Professor Crow gives our ‘Double Breakfast’ the thumbs up (in moderation of course!)
“When you increase your training load, there is naturally an increase in hunger because of the higher energy demands. Unless you’re using training to help lose a few kilograms, there is nothing wrong at all in responding to your hunger and eating more, as your body needs the extra nutrients.” He says. Quinoa porridge anyone?
Preparing and nourishing your body isn’t about fad diets or tips you read on the internet. It’s all about having a healthy and balanced diet. My top tip is to be organized and prepare healthy meals in the weeks leading up to your event to ensure you’re race ready. And even though your body might not need it, that pre-race pasta ritual is too delicious not to give in- any excuse will do! Tim agrees that pasta is a good choice, “especially if you enjoy it!” he says “nothing wrong with making sure you’re well fuelled the night before a race.” You don’t need to tell me twice!
For more essential nutritional advice for running and training, have a listen to Tim’s Thinking Nutrition podcast here.
Also, if you haven’t signed up to run the City2Surf with me for TEAM Fight Cancer there is still time! Sign up to the City2Surf and nominate Fight Cancer Foundation as your charity of choice.
Join the TEAM officially here: https://www.everydayhero.com.au/e…/fcfteamfightcancerproject and promote your efforts on social media to your friends to raise vital funds for people living with cancer. More information: https://www.fightcancer.org.au/event/city2surf/