Nutrition and Hydration

Running requires a delicate balance between calories and water within your body.  One of the great benefits of being active is weight management – but that’s only part of the story!  If you are training you have to pay close attention to properly fueling your workouts and we hope these brief suggestions will help you.

 According to an estimate by the American Council on Exercise, running typically burns approximately 100 calories per mile.  This number holds true regardless of how fast you run, and can provide a decent marker for walking as well.  In other words if you jog 3 miles you will burn roughly 300 calories.  As we often remind our community, your training should have specific goals in mind. 

 If your goal is to lose weight then you can use those 300 calories to balance your diet.  If your basic diet is 2000 calories per day, and you jog 3 miles, your new calorie balance should be 2300 calories per day.  If you eat less calories per day than you burn you may lose weight.  Many more factors should be considered here such as glycemic index, but we just want a rule of thumb.

 If your goal is to run fast you should keep your daily consumption as close to your estimated caloric expenditure as possible.  For example a typical high school athlete will burn approximately 2200 calories per day before exercise.  If the athlete then runs 5 miles during practice, the total caloric expenditure for the day will be around 2700 calories.  Therefore the athlete should try to consume 2600 to 2800 calories during the day to fuel their training.

 These numbers are just for reference and we have more important details to provide.  The most important of which is the quality of the calories you consume.  Everyone knows eating too much fat can be bad for you.  But do you know which foods are best for runners?  The top five runner foods are:

  • Sweet Potato (Baked)
  • Black Beans (Boiled, no salt)
  • Arugula and Spinach Salad (Raw)
  • Avocado (Raw)
  • Salmon or Steak (Lean, Organic)

 A daily menu which regularly includes these foods will provide you many of the key nutrients required for running.  Other runner foods are easily prepared as well, such as rice or lentils, blueberries, organic milk, peanut butter, whole oats, and raisins.  Hundreds of options are out there but this should give you an idea of what you’re looking for: whole foods with a wide nutrient content and healthy substance.

 The next (and arguably more important!) topic is hydration.  There is no more fundamental need for a walker or runner than keeping yourself hydrated.  We strongly recommend that you consume at least 64 oz of fresh water each day during participation in our programs.  In addition to this baseline we recommend you consume at least 4 oz of water or electrolyte replacement drink every 20 minutes during exercise.  Additionally, if you feel thirsty, drink.  Drink water liberally. 

 Water should always be your first choice, followed by an electrolyte replacement drink of your liking.  Carbonated and caffeinated drinks will often hinder your ability to train and should be consumed in absolute moderation.  We know some of you are addicted to coffee and that’s alright, but don’t rely on coffee to hydrate you before exercise. 

 If you have a race coming up you may consider hydrating and “carbo-loading.”  A few things should be addressed here.  Good racing requires proper recovery before the event – this means you need to start hydrating for the race a full week before the race.  The extra days of hydration will help your body’s natural recovery processes. 

 As for carbo-loading, it takes at least 18 hours for your body to process food and distribute the nutrients to the muscles as glycogen.  Glycogen is the primary fuel for your muscles during a race, so if you’re going to carbo-load you need to do it more than 18 hours before you plan to be on the starting line.  Eating a pasta dinner the night before a morning race isn’t going to help you until the afternoon following the race.  If for example you race is Saturday morning at 8am, you need to be thinking about carbohydrates in your Thursday evening meal, and during Friday morning and lunch. 

 Again we want to stress this guide is simply a suggestion for how you might approach your training.  It is certainly not intended to constitute advice of any professional nature on the subject of weight management or nutrition.  If you have specific questions contact your coach and we’ll help find you any answers we can.  However we strongly suggest that for any questions or concerns related to the topics in this guide, you contact your physician for advice.  You should also consider seeking advice from a certified nutritionist.

Will Christian

I was a 2:27 marathoner that seemed to have hit the ceiling. It seemed that I couldn't break that time. I ran a 2:20 marathon this past fall and a big reason for that success was due to coaching and guidance. Coaching is like having a second set of eyes on a problem.

As an active duty service member we are taught "Attention to Detail." I was focusing on my stronger attributes while neglecting my weaker ones. My personal coach pointed a few things out and changed a few of my workouts and like magic; I smashed my PR in the marathon.