Hungry Running

Fran Musgrave

Your friends have been calling you a ‘runner’ for a while, even though you assure them you’re not; but as your first 10k run approaches you start to think, maybe I am, and then you think – ‘what am I going to eat?’


Eating a balanced diet is important for anyone, and especially for those who are starting to do more exercise and are trying to improve their PB at their local parkrun or in their first 10k. Making sure you’re eating a good range of colourful fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates and protein, like meat and fish, and healthy fats are a good start.


The night before the big day, eating complex carbohydrates will help keep you energised at a steady rate throughout your run. Don’t fill up on pasta though; otherwise you’ll be too bloated and heavy to get of the start line! Try to eat in moderation but make sure a significant amount consists of complex carbohydrates.


A complex carbohydrate includes things like wholegrain bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods; it takes your body longer to break these foods down so it gives you energy for longer. Whereas simple carbohydrates include things like white bread, donuts, and jam’s; these don’t take very long to breakdown so they give you short bursts of high energy quickly.


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure you don’t skip it on run day either. The best way to decide what to eat for breakfast is to test out a few different ones before the race; time your run to be the same as the real thing would be. Include a few complex carbs and protein, for example, porridge or eggs on toast, and eat roughly 90 minutes to two hours before running to avoid bloating or a stitch.


For a 10k, with the right food beforehand, you shouldn’t need to eat on the go. But remember to keep hydrated throughout the run! Fellow Run Leeds author Bronwen has some good advice on how to stay fuelled during a long run


After all that hard work, you deserve to eat a great meal to finish off the day, keep up the good work and eat something that will help your body recover. Chicken is a great protein filled food to assist your muscles in repairing. Another good, post-race food is eggs; boiled, poached, scrambled, or as an omelette, just not fried! It’s best to eat within 30 minutes of finishing, as this helps get all the right nutrients to your muscles as quickly as possible.


So, now you’ve fallen into being a ‘runner’, you can make sure your first 10k starts right and ends right. Let us know how you got on!


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