Health

health-header

The team are often asked for advice and guidance around being a healthy runner…

One piece of advice does not always suit everyone but there are some basic steps in trying your best to prepare for your weekly runs and do everything you can to remain injury free.

We often have many debates around the benefits of a ‘stretching’ routine – both before and after a run. We have scoured the internet and conducted some general research into the matter and created two links with advice and plans to follow if you decide to undertake  a stretching routine as part of your regime.

Please remember that not everyone is suited to these exercises and you should never undertake any kind of physical exercise if you have injuries or underlying health problems.

Always consult with your GP if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

HYDRATION

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in.

When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way it functions.

Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps the skin healthy.

Tuesdays and Thursdays – think ‘Striders’ – think ‘hydration’
Give the tea and coffee a miss after midday and think about starting to get yourself hydrated. Plenty of water or squash. Especially in the summer months.

NUTRITION

A good diet can help you get the best fitness and sports results. Sports nutritionist and registered dietitian Wendy Martinson shares her tips on food and drink for athletes.

Wendy advises Olympic athletes on how to improve their diet. She is a lead performance nutritionist for the English Institute of Sport and nutritionist for the Great Britain rowing team.

Everyone should aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet, whatever their activity level, as this will provide you with all the nutrients you need.

The following additional advice is for people who are training once per day or more.

Can I eat more when I’m doing lots of exercise?

If you are exercising once or more every day, you will use more energy than if you did little or none. If you are a healthy weight and don’t want to lose body fat, you will need to eat more food each day to maintain your weight.

However, you still need to have a balanced diet. To increase your energy intake and fuel your training sessions, eat more carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain varieties, and eat potatoes with their skins on. Include sources of essential fats from foods such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. You will also need enough protein-rich foods to help repair and build your muscles.

Learn how to have a balanced diet by looking at the Eatwell Guide.

Is it better to eat a diet high in starchy carbohydrates or protein when I’m training?

You will need more carbohydrate and protein if you are training regularly each day. Carbohydrates are the fuel that power your exercise regime.

Carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals, are the most important fuel for muscles, and an essential energy source for the brain and central nervous system.

Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. These stores are small, so a regular intake of carbohydrate is necessary to keep them topped up. Low glycogen stores may result in poor performance and increase the risk of injury. For some sports, however, such as weight-making sports, where elite athletes may have to weigh in at a certain weight category (such as boxing), or endurance sports (such as long-distance running), there can be physiological benefits of training with low glycogen stores during certain sessions. These sessions must be carefully planned, due to the potential risks.

Most people will be able to get enough protein from a healthy, varied diet. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods.

Athletes need protein in greater amounts and at regular intervals throughout the day for muscle growth and repair. The proportions of carbohydrate and protein required will vary, depending on the sport, so it’s best to seek advice from a qualified professional on your individual requirements.

Learn more by reading our pages on starchy foods and how to have a balanced diet.

How should I time my meals and snacks around exercise?

Once you’ve eaten a meal or snack, allow between one and four hours to pass before you start exercising. Your body needs time to digest. The amount of time will depend on the amount of food you’ve eaten.

If it’s an average meal, eating around two to three hours before you exercise works well. If you have only an hour or so before you exercise, then aim for a meal or snack that is rich in carbohydrate, low in fat and moderate in protein, such as porridge made with low-fat milk or a wholegrain sandwich or bagel with chicken and salad. Too much protein or fat will slow down the movement of foods from the stomach, and will make you feel uncomfortable.

Food and drink also plays a part in recovering effectively from training. Good recovery is crucial to prevent a midweek slump in energy levels, and to aid muscle growth and repair. If you are training more than once a day and you have fewer than eight hours between sessions, aim to have a carbohydrate- and protein-rich food or drink within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing your first session. If you are training less than this, or with more time to recover, just eat as soon as you can afterwards.

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