You’ve made up your mind! Tomorrow we’ll start running… Well, it’s an excellent idea, but as with any other physical or sporting activity, it would be advisable to bear in mind several factors, especially those related to nutrition. If you take care of it from the start, it will allow you to continue advancing and growing as an athlete, and training for fun today, in the future, may even end becoming training to compete.
Starting to Run
Running is a great option as a sporting activity. It’s really quite cheap, you don’t need to pay much money, except in my opinion for some running shoes. Even if you don’t go running much, I think it’s useful to check your footwear, as often it can be related to certain types of injuries. The next thing is to choose the location or terrain where you’re going to run. For this we have several options: running on the street or on the treadmill, on asphalt or road, or even on the beach.
Start Running Goals
In most cases, people start running for weight control, or slimming. Obviously, to be able to reduce our weight, basically -> calorie deficit. By means of physical activity, we’ll already be burning a large amount of calories, although… the key -> food. If we “wrongly” compensate for this calorie expenditure with an inappropriate diet, we’ll be almost at the same level.
Remember: losing weight is not the same as losing fat, so the important thing will be to Maintain Muscle Mass and Lose Fat!
Becoming a Runner
It’s possible that in a few outings you’ll get the hang of running. You’ll be feeling the “emotions” of completing your first kilometres, and each time at an even better pace. Everything is the result of the principle of progression, of knowing how to start running, little by little, until you consolidate an aerobic base. There is one common mistake however, and it’s the ‘weekend runner’: someone who during the week does 0 physical activity, and when the weekend comes, takes refuge in running, “binging” on it.
It is better to set out a plan, adjusting duration and rhythms, even if the goal is to lose fat
The Importance of Hydration for Runners
If there’s one thing common to any sporting activity carried out in the open air or in somewhat adverse weather conditions, it is the need for adequate hydration. Sweating is the result of the cooling system (thermoregulation) used by the body to combat the rise in temperature as muscles contract and energy is metabolised during intense exercise. No athlete or sportsperson, whether a novice, beginner or the most experienced, is exempt from getting a fright from dehydration. Mostly water is lost through this system, as well as important substances such as electrolytes, and a decrease in their levels can cause the risk of suffering muscle cramps, which may even force us to stop.
Hydrations should be a priority whatever our condition. Without correct levels we can see reduced endurance, increased fatigue, altered thermoregulatory capacity, reduced motivation and increased perceived exertion
Signs of Dehydration
Unless we pay a minimum of attention, this should never happen, but to be prevented it’s important to assess the situation. Among the signs that can give us clues that we’re dehydrated (above all if we’re in hot climates…) are:
- Dark urine
- Reduced frequency of urination
- Increased resting heart rate
- Prolonged pains
How much water should we drink before, during and after exercise?
Considering the recommendations, the ideal would be:
- Before exercise (2h before): 3-5ml of liquid / kg of weight
- During exercise: taking short sips every 10-30min (minimum 250ml / hour)
- After exercise: 600-700ml of liquid for every 450g of body weight
*Up to 1.8 litres of liquid can be lost per hour
Nutrition for Beginner Runners
Practicing sport is a new stimulus. As such, in terms of nutrition, it will also require new energy demands. In this respect, it’s likely we’ll have to renew our daily eating habits, focussing on the new nutritional requirements.
Why is nutrition important for beginner runners?
- To solve the demand for calories that are going to come from physical activity.
- To encourage muscle recovery
- To aid performance in successive sessions
Diet is the fundamental pillar on which to support ourselves, and our positive progression as sportsmen and women will depend on it.
What do I have to eat as a runner?
Although in general, the recommendations for aerobic activities are usually that the diet is composed of a large amount of energy carbohydrates, because they’re the nutrients that will give us energy… the truth is that according to the intensity at which you run, a large amount of energy will come from stored fatty acids, so the need to recover through high carbohydrate intake will not be as critical.
In this scenario, fat intake is quite important. Stop being afraid of saturated fats, and consume some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like olive oil, oily fish and nuts, as an omega-3 source… These nutrients that play a vitally important role in health maintenance, such as acting as natural antiinflammatories. The recommendation is that the calorie intake from this macronutrient should not fall below 20 percent of the total.
Excellent sources of fats: salmon, eggs, queso fresco.
Another very important point, and one that many runners are less aware of, is the role of protein. An athlete has higher needs than the rest of the population, both in terms of energy and in terms of amino acids supply. In fact, failure to meet protein requirements is one of the most damaging factors in terms of optimal recovery. How much protein do you need per day? There is no exact number, although recommendations for runnings can be between 1.3 to 2g of protein/body weight, with the variables being: the more experience, the less need, and if the training is more intense and there is also caloric restriction, you can also lean more to the top end.
Example Diet for Beginner Runners
- Omelette or Scrambled Eggs with 3-4 eggs + Serrano Ham
- 1-2 Pieces of Fruit
- Coffee or Tea
- 150-200g of Grilled Turkey Breast
- 40g Quinoa with Stir-Fry Wok-Style Vegetables
- 150-200g of Grilled Salmon
- 60-80g of Basmati Rice
- 200g of Steamed Green Beans Seasoned with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Squeezed Lemon
Let’s Add Some Snacks:
- Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews…) mid-morning
- 1 Natural Greek Yoghurt with Cinnamon in the afternoon
Supplements for Beginner Runners
Why take supplements?
- Supplements make it easier for us to supply nutrients and reduce nutritional deficiencies that may occur in our diet. In a perfect diet, supplementation may only play a role in times when it is quite difficult to eat solid food: during exercise.
- Supplements, in the case of not being able to carry “everything to the millimetre”, will help us to provide sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, or complete daily protein requirements.
What result can I get from taking supplements?
- Improving the sports performance
- Improving body composition (increase or maintenance of muscle mass and fat loss)
- Improving muscle recovery
What supplements are recommended for beginners?Proteins: Many people (myself included) do not consider it a supplement, but a source of protein, i.e. a food. In fact, if we drink protein shakes, they should be included in our total calorie count just like any other food we make. They provide amino acids, the key elements that carry out a series of essential functions in our body, and which are going to contribute to fibrillar regeneration, the creation of new muscular tissues
Multivitamins: A reinforcement for the runner’s diet. They are essential vitamins and minerals, and, as we have already discussed, due to higher nutrient requirements, it is sometimes quite common for athletes to suffer from some deficiency. You may not notice anything, one day, two days… but in the medium term, a lack of some of these valuable nutrients may cause some kind of disorder. On the other hand, if we maintain a correct diet, in my opinion, we take the multivitamin in a cyclic way.
Joint Health: Some supplements aim to prevent or mitigate joint pain, such as Hydrolysed Collagen, which also helps to slow down the deterioration of cartilage, keeping it hydrated and providing necessary nutrients.
Supplements for Runners
- Guide to Supplements for Runners
- Why is Iron Supplementation Important for Long Distance Runners?
- What to Eat Before Running