Vail Valley running: Eating and drinking correctly
Though most runners try to get faster or feel stronger though constant routine or strange, yet comforting, rituals, the easiest way to change your speed is to change your plate. All great runners and running journalists know that nutrition is the key to getting the right stride, the right body and the right attitude. You might not even know that you are eating anything wrong, or you don’t know what to do to make your diet even cleaner. Most runners think that eating fiber and drinking water are good habits. However, if you eat fiber at the wrong time or drink too much water, you might be doing yourself a disservice. Fiber, most commonly found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is an awesome nutrient, however eating fiber before a run will most likely disrupt your workout and require you to search for the nearest pit stop. “Timing is everything,” said Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Since it takes about two hours for the fiber you eat to leave the stomach and work its way into the intestine, you need to plan your intake accordingly. For instance, if you run in the morning, save the high-fiber cereal for after your run. Or if you plan to run at 6 p.m., don’t have a bean burrito at 5. If you usually run late in the day, it’s a good idea to have most of your fiber at breakfast and lunch because it’ll be digested by the time you head out,”Fiber is good to eat in your diet, but not within three hours of a planned run. Hydration is a key component to reaching your running potential. Living here in the Vail Valley at an elevation of 8,150 feet, we are already dehydrated just walking around. Exercise exacerbates this condition even further, so runners might think that a huge amount of hydration before a run can help fuel their bodies. However, overhydration can have the same effects as too little water. Cramping and bloating, not to mention the uncomfortable and immediate need to use the bathroom, can result from overhydration. No one wants to run with a sloshy stomach. The everyday runner doesn’t need more than 4 or 5 ounces of water for every half hour of running, so drinking half a glass 10 or 20 minutes before an easy run is usually sufficient. If you are going for a longer run, hydration in the form of electrolytes allows you to carry a smaller amount of liquid and means that you won’t drink too much liquid to satiate your thirst. According to Runners World writer Kristen Wolfe Bieler, sports drinks have a 6 percent to 8 percent carbohydrate concentration (14 to 20 grams of carbs per serving), which allows them to be absorbed by the body as much as 30 percent faster than water and provide a steady stream of carbs to restock spent energy stores. They also contain the electrolytes, sodium and potassium, minerals that are lost through sweat and important for fluid retention. So going out for that 10-miler with at least 8 ounces of Gatorade attached to your hip is probably sufficient for proper hydration. Of course, eating and drinking after your run is pretty much up to your own discretion, unless you plan on running a marathon the next day. If you want to have a great time and talk more about nutrition, join me Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at the Vista Bahn. We won’t judge your choice of black bean burrito and beer afterwards. Greg Decent writes a weekly running column for the Vail Daily.