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Training for a Spring Race? Try These Nutrition Tips

Written on January 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm , by

Morgan rounds the Ottawa Senators up for a cooking workshop this past summer. (Photo courtesy Molly Morgan RD, CDN, CSSD)

It may not feel like it right now, but spring will be here before you know it. If you’re training for a race (like the MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon in April!) then you know that what you eat is just as important to how many miles you log. To help you reach your goal, Molly Morgan RD, CDN, CSSD and the nutritionist for the Ottawa Senators NHL team shared with us her tips on how to fuel up before, after and during those weekend long runs.

Spring race season is coming up! What are some tips for runners who are beginning to train for a race?

One of the biggest things I recommend is focusing on hydration. Our bodies are made up of 50-70 percent water and being properly hydrated is so important in the performance and recovery stages. So to start, runners should increase their base fluid intake.

What are the rules for hydrating before, during and after a run?

Before a game, or run, or whatever sport you’re doing you should try to drink 16 ounces of water two hours beforehand. Depending on how much you sweat, try to get in another eight to 16 ounces about 15 minutes before heading out the door. During is always the tricky part. Try to get about 6 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes if you’re doing a longer workout. Don’t rely on thirst as an indicator, and do your best to schedule hydration stops as much as you’re able to. After your run, you should drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound you lost. Obviously, we don’t all jump on a scale before and after a workout so you just have to use your best judgment. Hydrating afterwards doesn’t have to be instantaneous though, as long as you’re getting the fluids you need within six hours of your run, you’re in good shape.

A lot of times when runners train for a race, they overestimate how much they should be eating. What are some ways to make sure we’re getting enough calories, but not going overboard?

I say as a general rule of thumb, unless you are working out for longer than an hour, you don’t need any gels or sports drinks. They just pack on a lot of calories that our bodies don’t need in that time frame. If you are exercising over an hour, make sure to get 30g of carbohydrates per hour. This can be in the form of energy chews, pretzels or raisins, whatever you want.

From a day-to-day perspective, I always tell the Senator players that immunity and healing are all improved by antioxidants, so fruits and vegetables are key. We get enough protein and carbs, but it’s the fruits and veggies that take some more time. To help with this, we work on snack ideas that the players can do at home, like grabbing a KIND Fruit and Nut bar, having Greek yogurt with berries, or even going a little old school with some peanut butter on celery with raisins–a player actually tweeted that snack to me the other day! Making it a point to incorporate these foods into your diet will make your training go much smoother.

More from FITNESS: The FITNESS Half-Marathon Training Guide