Nutrition for Runners, and nutrition in general, is something that interests me greatly, particularly as I previously lived off a diet of cheese & wine & mojitos & Greggs sausage rolls (I now eat what I hope is a more nutrient-dense diet!)
There were a few nutritional blunders I made when I initially started running (and some of these are mistakes that I still make now) – the main culprits being as follows:
- Not Eating Enough!
Looking back, I was not eating nearly enough not only as a runner, but also as a human being. At the time, I thought I was eating ‘well’ (whatever that means?!) but in reality, my diet was highly restrictive, and I absolutely was NOT eating enough!
Although ultimately this was my choice, I think some of the nutritional guidelines for runners are a little dangerous/misleading. I remember reading a nutrition guide published in Runner’s World, which had a strong focus on effective substitutes – i.e. swapping in a “good” food to replace a so-called “bad” food. I can’t remember the exact foods they shamed, but I would put money on one of the examples being swapping in wholegrain bread to replace white bread (absolute classic).
There have been numerous discussions around assigning moral value to the foods that we eat, so I won’t bore you with rambling on about this topic (AHEM SLIMMING WORLD NAMING CERTAIN FOODS AS ‘SYNS.’ I still can’t get over how ridiculous and potentially damaging this is.) However, I will say that this did have an impact on me when I first began my running ‘journey’ (cringe), and not eating enough was a huge faux pas!
- Cutting out Major Food Groups
Following on from my previous point, for some bizarre reason I felt the need to eliminate entire food groups from my diet. I’m not one to buy into faddy diets, so to be honest I’m still unsure as to why I did this. I think I panicked…who knows.
This was not good for my body or metabolism. It was stupid. It was moronic.
- Mistimed Fibre Consumption
I have a fibre rich diet – lots of oats, whole grain pasta, fruit and beans. I always thought this was a positive thing – which essentially it is! This was until I took part in a 20-mile race and experienced terrible cramping and other undesirable symptoms and threw up on someone’s shoes (SURPRISE.)
This incident was almost definitely down to the timing of my fibre intake – obviously the time for excessive fibre is not pre-race!
- Not Drinking Enough Water
I know I have touched on this in a previous post, and I know that this one sounds obvious. However, this is something that I still underestimate, particularly when I am doing an easy run and don’t feel the T H I R S T.
- (Incorrect Energy Gel Usage)
This must be one of the most ridiculous (running related) things I have ever done, and I have put this point in brackets to emphasise that this was a one-off incident.
In my first ever race, I was handed an Energy Gel at one of the drinks stations. For some unknown reason, I thought that the Energy Gel was a muscle soothing concoction, therefore smothered the gel all over my aching legs.
The remainder of the race was rather unpleasant – I was highly aromatic, plus leaves and branches kept attaching themselves to my legs.
Whilst I’m sure that No. 5 is only relevant to me, it would be interesting to hear if anyone else has made any similar (or not so similar!) nutritional errors. What has been your biggest running nutrition mistake? Is there anything that you consistently struggle with nutrition wise?