The latest question in our Ask a Coach series comes from Håkon from “cold Norway.”
Question: My problem is that my stomach hurt during training. And that happends quite often. I was wondering if you, as specialist, could give me some tips about “yes”-food and “no”-food before long runs? And maybe some guidance in eating habits?
Run SMART Coach, Alicia Shay:
The most important rule is to eat foods that are familiar to you and to practice your meal timing to figure out what works best for you as an individual. That being said, there are some guidelines that seem to work for most runners…
Before you train you want to give as much fuel to your body as possible without eating foods that would upset your stomach or spike your blood sugar. Also, the closer that you eat a meal or snack to your training, the more careful you need to be about the amount and types of food that you consume. The most important key to properly fueling and digesting food before and during a run is to properly hydrate throughout the day. Without proper hydration, your food will not digest well. In addition to hydration, here are some suggestions of how much to eat before a training session:
- 3-4 hours before training: eat a full, balanced meal comprised of familiar foods
- 2 hours before training: a light meal, 1/2-3/4 the size of a normal meal
- 1 hour before training: a small snack such as an energy bar that is low in sugar and higher in fiber; a peanut butter or almond butter sandwich; a handful of crackers, small handful of nuts and a piece of fruit
- 30 minutes before training: an energy bar that is low in fat and fiber and higher in sugar or a sports drink that’s main ingredient is maltodextrin (such as Cytomax) or gel (such as Hammer Gel or Gu)
During Training Fuel:
- If you have been eating properly throughout the day, there is no need to begin fueling during a run until after the first 60-70 minutes if you plan in running longer than 90 minutes.
- The main source of fuel during exercise should be some sort of glucose such as dextrose or maltodextrin (long chains of glucose). You can simply look at the ingredient list on sports drink to see what the main ingredients are in the product.
- After 60 minutes of running you should limit your intake of fuel to 100-300 calories per hour (150 works best for most individuals0. The best sources are sports drinks and gels. If running at a lower intensity, you might be able to handle bananas, energy bars, crackers, etc. However, it is best to stick to foods that you know will not upset your stomach such as sports drinks and gels.
- With any source of fuel always drink adequate water to aid in digestion. This is the most important step to avoid getting an upset stomach during a run. Drink at least 8 ounces of water mixed in with your sports drink or with your gel per hour!
Check out Nutrition Consultation with Alicia Shay.
Seeking advice, feedback or answers to running-related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org.