Alison Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian
Bellarine Sunset Run – what an awesome way to embrace the long nights of Summer. A far cry from the early morning alarm clock buzzing in your ear, well before sunrise, that you may be used to for running events. For many of you, this may be the first time you’ve participated in an evening run event. Here are a few tips to help you get your nutrition right so that you can fully enjoy the sunset as you run along the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula.
Practice makes perfect
Training sessions are the ideal time to refine and practice your race day nutrition. If you’re usually a morning runner, it’s worthwhile getting into the habit of making at least a couple of your training runs late afternoon or evening so that you can use them for practicing your race day nutrition. This can help to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t – for example, what sits well in your stomach, what’s easy to eat on the move, whether you like using liquid or solid carbs to fuel your muscles, etc.
Prepare for the heat
Evening runs are usually hotter than morning runs – especially if we hit a hot week of summer as often happens in February. It’s important to make sure that you fine tune your body’s hydration levels leading up to the start of the run by sipping on water regularly over the day. Use the colour of your wee as a guide for how much you need – if it’s really dark, drink some more to make sure you’re not starting the event dehydrated.
Lunch becomes your pre-race meal
For most runs, breakfast is your pre-race meal, however, for an evening race, lunch takes this job. Carbohydrates are the major fuel for your muscles during moderate and high intensity exercise. During training, start practicing various carb-rich lunch options, work out which one works best for you and stick with that for race day. Keep things pretty simple and easy to digest – avocado on toast, English muffins with peanut butter and banana or couscous salad are all good options to trial. If you’re nervous or find it hard to eat before running, try a fruit smoothie with some oats to bump up the carbs for extra fuel.
Be careful of nervous or boredom eating
More time before the run starts means more time to fill. Be careful not to fill the void with more food than you would usually eat. Mindless grazing and snacking all day long could leave you at the start line feeling over-full and sluggish. Use your practice evening training runs as a guide and aim to replicate this on event day.
If you’d like to know more about nutrition for your individual situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ali (http://www.alisonpatterson.com/). You can also like her Facebook page for regular tips and recipes https://www.facebook.com/alisonpatterson.sportsdietitian/