As you set out on your 10K training program, one of the key driving factors might be weight loss. 10K nutrition is really important at this stage of your running because you need to ensure your body is getting sufficient fuel to work at the level you are now pushing it.
If you are feeling lethargic or not running as well as you have been, then it might be that you are not getting enough energy and you should have a look at re-planning your 10K nutrition program.
So while calorie counting and eating a healthy diet will help you to continue to lose weight and tone your body, to ensure your 10K nutrition needs are met you will need to adjust what you eat and how much you eat.
Chances are that you are already eating a healthy diet. This should consist of a good balance of energy-rich carbohydrates; protein for repair and re-growth of muscles and tissues; fats for energy and protection; and the fibre, vitamins and minerals that are so important for your immune system and good health.
As you increase the time you spend running and the distance that you cover, you will find that your energy needs rise. It is important that you develop your fuel intake so that you satisfy your hunger without resorting to eating foods that are ‘empty’ calories, such as crisps, sweets and cakes.
There are a few simple 10K nutrition rules that you can follow to ensure that your activity levels remain high and you are not tempted into eating snacks that are high in sugar and lead to an artificial high with a subsequent slump in energy.
- As part of your 10K nutrition plan eat three well-balanced meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are the foundations of your day and should contain a balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein. You should ensure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as a selection of beans, lentils, rice, pasta, potatoes, fish, eggs and lean meat. Your diet should also contain dairy products or their substitutes to ensure you get enough calcium.
- Keep hydrated. Even on days you are not running you still need to drink plenty of fluids because your muscles keep working after you have finished exercising and you should never allow your body to get into a state of dehydration. A slightly yucky but effective means of checking your levels of hydration are to check your urine – it should be a light straw colour. The darker the colour, the more you need to drink some water.
- Keep a ready supply of healthy snacks to hand. When you run, your body keeps working long after you stop so you are burning calories. This means that you may well be hungrier than normal and crave some sugar. Rather than succumb to the chocolates and cakes that are left lying around the office, or popping your hand in the cookie jar, keep a supply of fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cereal bars or pots of yogurt within easy reach. These snacks will stabilise the sugar levels in your blood and keep your hunger pangs at bay.
- Your 10K nutrition plan should still focus on eating the healthiest options – wholemeal bread and pasta, steamed vegetables instead of stir-fries, low fat options for spreads and yogurts, chicken and fish in preference to red meat.
As part of your 10K nutrition program plan your meals and snacks around your activity so that you are eating a light meal or a snack about two hours before you run and re-fuelling within half-an-hour of finishing your run. You might not feel like eating after a run, particularly if you have completed a tough session, but it is important that you get some energy into your system. If eating solid food is really a step too far, then a fruit-based smoothie is a good substitute.
Snacks that are a runner’s best friend:
Bananas, avocados, almonds, raisins, apples, pears, cereal bars, yogurt, toast and peanut butter, honey on bread, crisp breads, dark chocolate.
There are hundreds of websites dedicated to the dietary needs of runners, have a trawl through these to pick up ideas for your own 10K nutrition plan. It is also worth having a look at some blogs, written by people who have been exercising to lose weight; there are some very inspirational stories out there.