Every week leading up to the Reyes Adobe Days weekend, Patch will be tackling various, more in-depth topics to help participants of all fitness levels prepare for the RAD 10K on Oct. 1.
So far, Patch has brought you the , including glimpses of the point-to-point course plus for beginning runners and walkers.
This week, we’ll delve into an often overlooked but very important component of training for a 10K: nutrition.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding nutrition while training for a 10K. Everyone’s body functions differently. The bottom line is to listen to some expert advice, experiment and see what works for you. Just like the race itself, nutrition is a personal process for most people.
Sports nutritionists recommend a diet consisting of 60 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent fat and 15 percent protein during training. Without a balanced diet, one may come up short during a 10K, according to Josh Spiker, winner of the 2009 and 2008 Chesebro Half-Marathon and the 2007 Old Agoura 10K.
“Nutrition for a 10K is relatively simple,” said Spiker.
As a general rule, plenty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and anti-oxidants, along with vitamins C and E, should be taken to stay well-fueled.
The night before the 10K, make sure you are well-hydrated and eating food you have tried before, said Spiker, who also coaches the 101 Tribe Running Club in Camarillo.
“Pasta is also generally a safe meal the night before a race, as well as other foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein,” he said. “Just eat well, but try not to overeat the night before.”
Experimenting with new food too close to a race may result in gastro-intestinal issues.
For Spiker, other “safe foods” include bagels and bananas two to three hours before the race, which also meet the general nutrition recommendation of approximately 200 to 300 calories.
A piece of whole grain toast and an energy bar are also considered traditional runners’ favorites and also fall within the 200- to 300-calorie guideline.
During the run
For most beginners who will probably finish their first few 10Ks in 45 minutes or more, Spiker recommends fueling up and perusing the water and electrolytes along the course.
Race officials know how important race nutrition is. “We will have two aid stations with water and electrolyte drinks along the course,” said Danny Greenberg, race director. “They can also carry their own, but we should have more than enough for everyone.”
Aside from liquids, energy bars, chews, gels and blocks may also be consumed as needed to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range. By doing so, the body uses stored glycogen sparingly, allowing for better endurance.
Runners who deplete their glycogen stores often describe this experience as “hitting the wall” or “bonking.” Physical aches, a slower pace, a labored gait and negative thoughts often characterize this painful experience.
Good nutrition does not end at the finish line. “It is a very important part of recovery,” said Spiker.
Some studies have even discovered the correlation between a lack of appropriate post-run nutrition to a higher risk of injury. Remember that muscles need protein to rebuild.
Low-fat chocolate milk, a blend of protein, carbohydrates and a small percentage of fat is just an example of a post-run drink.
For more post-run nutrition and to replenish your energy stores, make sure you take the shuttle to the finish line festival and expo at Reyes Adobe Park.
“We’ll have pancakes and lots of other recovery food,” said Greenberg.
Next week’s topic: Cross-training and goal setting.
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Mira Reverente is a longtime competitive runner and has participated in races all across the U.S.