Let me start by saying that I am not a dietitian and you should consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. Throughout my running journey, I have had great conversations with athletes, read many helpful articles, and have had some trial and error with my overall nutrition. Here are some of the things I have learned along the way:
PICKING THE RIGHT FUEL
I love learning more about nutrition but I feel like it can be such a personal topic. There are some guidelines we can all aim to follow, but all bodies are different and what may work for an athlete might have me sick for a week. With that in mind, there are a few nutritional things I make sure to do before, during, and after each run which include: staying hydrated, eating a very light breakfast before a long run (6+ miles), eating a gel/chew every 40mins during a run, and packing in some protein post-run (either through a protein shake, a meal, or both)!
I really enjoy this nutrition guide from The Run Experience and find myself referring back to it often: https://therunexperience.com/nutrition-for-runners-optimize-your-running-with-these-top-tips/
TRIAL & ERROR
Training runs are a great time to test new/different products to see how your body reacts to them. I have tested everything from new shoes to new fuel during my training and have found some great (and not so great!) products I continue to use. I have narrowed down my brand choice of run nutrition and the type of product I prefer (gel vs chews). I have under-fueled, upset my stomach, and got things perfectly right, all due to some trial and error! I admittedly get a little nervous trying new things, but I make sure that I have a plan B (run a shorter distance, run close to my house, have someone to call for more fuel, etc.) in case things go wrong. When I'm in that moment I may regret a decision, but having the knowledge of what works and what doesn't work for you is invaluable! As far as brands go, I mostly stick to Nuun tablets for hydration and Honey Stinger chews for running nutrition. I found these brands through my local run shop and am SO fortunate to now represent them through their respective ambassador programs. But regardless of my affiliation with the brands, I LOVE their products and will continue to recommend them.
Like most people, I have a list of New Years Resolutions and one that has been on my list for a few years is completing a vegetarian month. This year my vegetarian month is March. I do this (and other things like juice cleanses) to help reset my system and get more veggies/nutrients into my body. It also forces me to try new recipes, which can have an impact on my running. So far, so good in regard to my vegetarian months and my running. I often feel lighter and better hydrated during my training runs. But even though I haven’t had a negative experience, I try not to switch up my diet too much the month of and month before a big race (half marathon+ distance). For example, my vegetarian month is in March (& not January like other NYE Resolutions) because I will be participating in both WDW Marathon Weekend in January and Princess Weekend in February. Once I get through those, I feel more comfortable making bigger changes in my diet.
One of my favorite recipes is sweet potato black bean enchiladas from The Minimalist Baker (linked below). Again, consult your doctor, but I'm pretty sure more veggies is a universal 'good thing' lol!
Overall I feel that nutrition can be both an art and a science. 'Listen to your body' is a good statement (I say it often) but you have to be able to understand what your body is telling you and sometimes unlearn what you thought your body meant. Do your research, try different approaches, and learn from those who have your best interest in mind (like...your Dr lol). xo Jerica