Eating Right During Running Season

By Jason Bell

As spring arrives and the weather gets warmer, runners once again take to the paths of Central Park. Physical activity and camaraderie with fellow exercisers feel great, but working out hard requires a lot of energy. Eating right during running season is just as important as wearing the right shoes and hydrating properly.

Complex carbohydrates are the name of the game-think whole grains and wholesome cereals. Key for sustained energy, complex carbohydrates help keep you running longer. After eating a bowl of roasted vegetables with brown rice, your liver turns the carbs into glycogen, a kind of long-term fuel source. Running without repleted glycogen stores is a recipe for quick burn-out and disappointment.

Besides carbohydrates, protein is an important (and oft-neglected) part of the runner's diet. As you run long distances, you actually tear your muscles on a microscopic level. To repair those tears, you need a decent amount of protein in your diet. In fact, your leg muscles get stronger by virtue of breaking down and being built back up. Try this recipe for a grilled salmon sandwich for a solid combination of carbs and protein.

Some runners try to purge all fat from their diet, but fat is an essential nutrient for a healthy body. Healthy fat sources like nuts, olives, and fish shouldn't be cut out of daily eating routines. Occasionally, it's alright to give yourself a treat, too. These quick and easy brownies are tasty and won't slow you down.

Running well necessitates eating well-without the proper nutrition, the body has a harder time meeting the demands of running. So break out the whole grains and the fish. Your body will thank you later.