Preparing for a long run

IF YOU'RE NOT FOCUSING ON PREPARATION, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG

Why prepare for your next long run?

There's something poetic, even romantic about the idea of running big distances, but like most things reality doesn't seem to match the dream - half way in and that free, superhero feeling we experience on fast runs is replaced with hunger, dehydration, feeling exhausted - right? Wrong! It's all about preparation and making sure you have fueled your body correctly before you even put your kit on. 

How do you prepare nutritionally for a long run?

Just like a race, a long run nutritional preparation starts at least 24 hours before your long run, by making sure that you have some good balanced meals made up entirely of whole foods (by whole foods I mean fresh ingredients like fish, nuts, grass-fed meat, vegetables and eggs). Plan out your breakfast, lunch and dinner for the 24 hours before the run and you'll get your body and mind off to a strong start. It's not just the quantity of food that matters, but the quality too. Processed foods are not going to nourish your body - the odd treat is fine, once you've had your fill of whole foods. 

I advise you to eat something light between 1 - 2 hours before you set off on your long run. This might be your breakfast, or it could be a snack / light meal if you're heading out later in the day. This will allow you time to digest the meal and help make sure you are fuelled and ready for your run. 

You my feel peckish along the way - whether or not you choose to eat during a long run is a personal choice and you can only really decide if it's right for you based on trial and error. If you do need to eat, pack food that is light and easy to digest and will still be edible once it's been shuffling up and down in your rucksack/pocket for a few miles. I've added a recipe for my favorite date balls which are simple to make, and tasty even after a few hours in my pocket... 

Finally, post run meals are super important, and you should refuel soon after with a small nibble, to avoid that tired, sick feeling, without overloading your stomach. My top tip is to have it ready before you go out, so you don't have to mess about preparing it when you get back. Once you've showered and sorted out your sweaty kit you can then sort out your post-run meal, which is key to recovery and should include lots of those whole foods we talked about earlier in this post.

I would love to hear your food related running tips! Do you have any great recipes or snacks you fuel your long runs with? What's your favourite post-run meal? Comment below. 

Date ball recipe

5 dates (if using dried dates, soak in water for an hour or so)

70g cashew nuts / almond nuts (or a mix of both)

1 tbsp Coconut oil

1 tbsp coconut flour / vegan protein powder.

Method:

For this recipe you'll need a strong blender - I use a nutribullet. Take the nuts and whizz them in the blender until they form a paste. Add in the coconut oil and dates and continue to blend - depending on the strength of your blender you might need to stop the blade and scrape the mixture from the side of the cup every 30 seconds or so. You can add a teaspoon of water if the mixture is too dry. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little of the coconut flour / vegan protein powder to help it come together. Once the mixture has come together, take small handfuls and roll into balls. You can roll the balls in the coconut flour / protein powder to avoid stickiness. I store the balls in portions of 2/3 in ziplock bags as they are perfect for keeping in the fridge and grabbing on the way out the house.