This is the season when we see swells of 'runners' take to the roads. The sunshine inspires and compels so many of us to take on physical challenges, like running road races. The recreational runner is a special breed. One that deserves unsung praises. Firstly it is the recreational runner's race registration that funds the purse for the elite winner. It is the recreational runner who buys running shoes and running gear and attends a multitude of running seminars supporting the sports industry. And yet, the recreational runner is left to fend for themselves when sorting out their running nutrition needs. All the research regarding fueling for performance has been done on ELITE athletes. These results are not laterally transferable to the recreational runner. In fact the fueling practices of elite athletes will impede the progress of the recreational athlete. Nutrition guidelines need to be established based on,
Lean Body Mass:
LBM is the pounds of muscle and bone on one's body MINUS the fat pounds. An athlete has very low body fat and very high muscle pounds. Their ratio of fat to lean mass is low. Having plenty of muscle requires plenty of fuel. A lot of this fuel can come from carbohydrate. A recreational runner with low-average body fat (say 17% for a male to 23%for a female) will have less lean body mass than an athlete. The recreational runner who is fit is not as lean as the athlete. The fat ratio is higher than an athlete and does not require fuel! All they need to fuel is the working muscles that are not as dense or as fit as an elite athlete. This type of runner does not need to fuel, ever, on concentrated carbohydrates. The recreational runner can acquire all their energy needs from regular meals with carbohydrates from vegetable and fruit sources. No need to load. Load what? The muscle is de-conditioned and will take what it needs from storage site in the muscles (glycogen), blood and the fat on the hips. Recreational runners who 'load' will only end up fatter, slower and uncomfortable.
Example of a Recreational Runner's Meal Post Long Slow Distance Workout:
6-8oz of fatty fish steamed in lemon and parsley, salt and pepper
6-10 asparagus steamed with 1-2 tsp of butter or 15 fiddle heads with butter
1/2 small baked potato with 1tbsp full fat sour cream and chives with pepper and sea salt
tea with tsp of unprocessed honey and 2squares dark chocolate