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Healthy-eating habits are the foundation of a good running routine. You need to stay well fuelled and hydrated to run faster and for longer. When you’re
energised you can run faster while burning more calories, and get fitter, faster. In this guide to sports nutrition we take you through the key food groups,
why they are important to runners and athletes and which foods are best for you before, after and during your workout.

“Nutrition is crucial for runners. Eating well can help you create the right physiological conditions for high performance, adapt to high-intensity training, fuel
your training and races and recover from all your workouts.”
—Nike Performance Council member John Berardi, PhD, CSCS, a founder of Precision

Regardless of whether your stomach starts to churn at mile two (big breakfast?) or you make it to mile 15 and then become lightheaded (forgot to bring along an
energy gel?) it can hurt all the same, and your workout will suffer the consequences. The good news is that proper nutrition can help prevent a lot of these
scenarios from happening in the first place. And our Nike+ Run Club (NRC) experts are here to help.

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WHAT TO EAT BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER YOUR RUN What you choose to consume before, during and after you run depends on several different factors, such as how fast you are running,
how much you are pushing yourself, and of course what you like to eat. The only real way to know what nutrition plan will be best
for you come race day is to test foods, drinks and gels/chews out in training first. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

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PRE-RUN NUTRITION As a general rule try not to exercise on an empty stomach. You will need the nutrients during your workout and to recover afterwards.
You don’t need much, but it can make a big difference on how hard and long you exercise.

Before your run have a something low in fiber and low in fat to eat. If you don’t want to eat something, opt for a sports drink or smoothie
containing around 200-400 calories. You don’t need much, but it can make a big difference on how hard and long you exercise.

Try to eat about two hours and avoid eating too much before exercising and try to ensure what you eat is low in fat, low in fibre, includes
carbs, proteins and fluids. Also, make sure you are familiar with the food you eat and don’t try anything that you’re not sure how your body
will react to. Here are some ideas of pre-workout food and drink.

“For most training sessions, your pre-workout nutrition is easy: You can either have a normal meal a few hours before you exercise, or you
can have a smaller meal at least 30 minutes before you start your workout,” said Berardi.

Do whichever works best for you personally. If you opt for the "normal meal," try incorporating 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1 or 2
fist-sized portions of veggies, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2 thumb-sized portions of fat. If you opt for the "smaller meal," try something
easily digestible, like a smoothie. The biggest thing is to stick with foods that you eat regularly and know won't upset your stomach.

• Bananas – are a great source of natural, fast acting carbohydrates as well potassium. The carbs provide the glucose which
fuels for your body during your exercise while the potassium helps maintain nerve and muscle functions. Have a banana around
30 minutes before you exercise to receive the benefits during your workout.

• Oats – are another natural source of natural carbohydrates that are slowly digested by the body which steadily release energy
throughout your workout and keep you going for longer. Have a bowl of oats with yogurt and berries at least 30 minutes before you
exercise to help keep your energy levels up and train harder.

• Wholegrains – another source of carbohydrates whole grain breads are a great base for a pre-workout meal. Try a couple of
slices of wholegrain bread with honey, jam, peanut butter or eggs around 30 – 45 minutes before your workout.

• Apples and peanut butter – a light snack which is packed with carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals which is quick, tasty and
will fuel you through a light – moderate intensity workout.

• Coffee – leave out the sugar and add plenty of milk and coffee can be great before exercising. Apart from hydrating you the milk
provides the carbs and protein to fuel your workout while the coffee puts a spring in your step.

• Fruit smoothies – as long as you use all natural ingredients, including protein and leave out added sugar smoothies are great
pre-workout. Try adding milk or yogurt for extra protein.

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NUTRITION WHILE YOU’RE RUNNING Generally, you shouldn’t need to eat if your workout is under an hour. If you are exercising
for longer or need to eat while on your workout try and keep it light and mainly carbs such
as bananas, berries, dried fruit, nuts or an energy bar.

Once you’re running, and if you’re running for over an hour and a quarter refuel with
carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. 30-60 grams of carbs per hour, such as
berries, dried fruit, a banana or an energy bar while you’re running should be enough.
Start to refuel 20-30 minutes into your run and then regularly throughout.

“If you’re running for less than two hours, your main focus should be on staying hydrated
and drinking plenty of water. However, if you’re going to be out on the road (or trail)
longer than that, or if it’s particularly hot and you’re sweating a lot, you need to replace
some calories and electrolytes along the way,” said Berardi.

For events more than 2 hours long, sipping on a sports drink can be a huge help. Try making
your own with 15g protein (1/2 scoop of protein powder) mixed with 30-45g carbs (1 scoop
of sports drink powder) and 2 cups of water. Another option is to consume a gel, chews or
another electrolyte-replacement product of your choice (should contain sodium, potassium,
calories and carbs) every 45 minutes to an hour.

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POST-RUN NUTRITION Eat a balanced meal about an hour after you run that includes protein, vegetables and
carbs. How soon you eat will depend on your goals—if you’re looking to build muscle you
can consider eating 15/20 minutes after your run finishes, and if you’re looking to tone
up wait for around 45 minutes. Aim for something that contains 1 or 2 palm-sized portions
of protein, 1 or 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2
thumb-sized portions of fats, along with a low-calorie beverage, like water. If you find
that you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, opt for a post-run smoothie.

“If you don’t eat anything within two hours after your run, it could slow your recovery and
negatively affect your next-day performance,” said Berardi. If you don’t feel hungry, or
have a hard time eating a big meal after a tough training session—don’t worry, that’s okay.
See our smoothie recipe page for some great post workout smoothies for you to try.

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HYDRATION Hydration is probably the single most important element in sports nutrition. Your
body is 60% water and it is perhaps the most important nutrient to remember
when exercising as it is essential to maintain a healthy body and very important
when exercising. Water is vital for maintaining cell health, carrying nutrients
throughout you body and cooling us down through sweating.

Remember to also stay hydrated before, during and after your run. Every day aim
to drink half your body weight of fluids—for example if you weigh 90kg try to drink
3 litres of calorie free fluid, ideally water. You should have a couple of cups of fluid
about two hours before your workout. For most workouts water will be fine, but for
longer exercise sessions or if doing so in warm or humid conditions you will need to
replenish lost electrolytes. Try sports drinks, or opt for natural
alternatives such as coconut water.

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RECIPES FOR RUNNERS Check out our DIY Sports Nutrition pages for more information, explore our balanced recipes for runners, or try our delicious Smoothie Recipes.

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RUN SMARTER

Learn how to become a fitter,
faster and healthier runner.

Go deeper and run further
with Nike+ Run Club.

Get up to speed with popular (and
often misunderstood) running topics.

Get inspired with nutritional advice
and recipes for runners.

Easy ways to improve
as a runner.

Explore in-depth workouts designed
by athletes and elite NRC coaches.

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