In two weeks, about 40,000 people will be converging on the streets around downtown Vancouver for the Sun Run. This is Canada’s largest annual 10k road race and the second largest timed 10k in the world. If you are tackling the Sun Run for the first time, St. Paul’s Hospital dietitian Dani Renouf has four great healthy eating tips to help you keep the pace and set you up for success.
1. Keep it simple with complex carbohydrates.
Many of us have more cravings for sweets, baked goods, and sugary beverages as we increase our training. Naturally, the body needs more fuel with increased activity, but simple sugars tend to give us a “high” which is then followed by a slump in energy and performance. Instead of the candy bar, make sure your meals include complex carbohydrates like whole grains including oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice (check out the great oatmeal in a mug recipe below). Snack on natural sugars from fruit during the day. Including carbohydrates at three meals and two snacks a day before the Sun Run will help to give you those bursts of energy you need during the sprints or uphill climbs.
2. Include protein like a pro.
Most of us may forget to include protein at breakfast and lunch, saving our protein budget for a larger meal at dinner. For improved energy and insulin utilization, make sure you add ¼ cup of nuts to your breakfast, a couple of hard-boiled eggs at lunch, as well as about 90g to 120g of protein-containing foods, like salmon or lean chicken at dinner. Try one meatless meal a week with about 1.5 cups of lentils or other beans. For a protein-rich snack after a run, add one slice of whole grain bread with natural nut butter or hummus.
3. Drink, drink, drink mostly water.
As you continue to increase your training runs, you will need at least two litres of water per day to prevent dehydration which can set in pretty quickly during exercise. For every 15 minutes you run, you will need one cup of water to hydrate. Choosing water over juice is best, as juice is high in sugar and can cause stomach upset and cramps on race day.
4. Celebrate with the right snacks.
Following the race, there will be a cornucopia of snacks awaiting you at the finish line. Although you will be exhausted and hungry, choose a bottle of water first, followed by a banana and protein bar.
Dani says, most importantly, have fun! “I think about the words of Olympic Runner, Steve Prefontaine: ‘Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.’”
Enjoy the movement!