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Pre-race Healthy Habits

Pic: Ebony Bakker

Training for any activity is essential, yet many of us forget eating well is an integral part of that training program.

The food we eat gives our body the fuel to function. When we don’t give our bodies the right type and amount of food, it is like trying to run a car on unleaded petrol when it should have been given leaded petrol. When we do, it improves our physical and mental function for everyday living as well as making it possible to perform at our very best.

Carbohydrate, which is stored in our liver and muscles as glycogen, is the fuel our bodies use for running. That’s why eating carbohydrate-rich food like bread, pasta, potato and fruit, at each meal and- for runners- particularly before and after training sessions, is critical to ensure a continuous supply of the right type of fuel.

It is also important to ensure your protein needs are looked after. Good sources of protein are lean meat, chicken and fish; legumes such as baked beans, dairy products, eggs and nuts. Don’t forget to eat regularly and be vigilant about consuming some carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes of finishing your training sessions, your muscles will thank you and your recovery will be vastly improved.

What foods should we avoid leading up to the big race? Avoid high in fat foods like take-away and fast food. High fat foods are not good sources of fuel or energy and can upset your stomach as well as add to fatigue. It is probably best to avoid spicy foods too, just in case.

What’s cooking the night before? The night before a race is an opportunity to load up on some much needed carbohydrates. Try a pasta or rice based meal with some lean meat, chicken or fish with vegetables or salad on the side. Go for the tomato based sauces rather than the rich, heavy, fat laden cream based variety. Try this recipe from the professions at The Australian Institute of Sport:

Chilli Chicken and Rice (no spice just flavour)

The goods... Spray canola or olive oil, 1 finely sliced red onion, 300g chicken mince, 2tsp minced garlic, 2tsp minced ginger, 1 finely chopped red capsicum, 1tbsp fish sauce, 1-2tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 2tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 5cups cooked long-grain white rice.

Get cooking... Spray a non-stick wok or pan with oil and heat. Add onion and cook for about 2mins or until soft. Add chicken mince, garlic, ginger and cook for about 5mins or until browned, breaking up lumps of mince with a wooden spoon. Add the capsicum and cook for 3mins, stirring frequently. Add the fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce to taste. Stir in the coriander. Serve with rice.

What’s for brekkie the morning of? It is really important to eat breakfast before the run and some good choices for breakfast include:

  • Cereal (Weet-bix, porridge, natural muesli, Sultana Bran, Mini-wheat’s) with low fat milk and fresh fruit

  • Wholegrain toast with baked beans, spaghetti, tomato or egg or just jam, honey or vegemite

  • Pancakes with fresh fruit

  • Fresh or tinned fruit and yoghurt

  • Up and Go or Sustagen Sport with a banana

Don’t forget to keep sipping on the water too.

Love this? Find more from Julie Meek here

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