Workout of the Week: Fueling Your Workout

20 Mar

This workout update is way overdue!

I just finished up week 9 of half-marathon training. With race training amping up, I’m a bit too sore to maintain my regular lifting routine. I’m still trying to make two dates a week with the weights, but yoga has taken priority this week. It feels so great to stretch my very tight, sore body.

Lately, some of my runs have been a little less than ideal. I haven’t been feeling my best, so I’m really focusing on proper nutrition and hydration. It must be working because JWD and I had one of our best long runs yesterday (we switched our long run to Saturday and rest day to Sunday this week). We had a great first 6 miles, then I got really tired and sluggish for the next 1.5 miles, and then I rallied and we finished with a strong, fast 1.5 miles. Whew I was tired afterwards.

Whatever spring race is on your agenda, you are probably settled in to your training program by now. But what about your nutrition routine? Proper nutrition is just as important to exercise performance as the training plan, and a poor diet isn’t going to get you a PR. This will be a two-part post for workout nutrition & hydration.


Here’s an exercise nutrition plan that’ll get you to the finish line in record time.

Pre-Workout Nutrition:

Pre-workout meals equip your body with the proper fuel to power your workout. Because carbohydrates are the body’s fuel of choice, pre-workout meals should be high in carbohydrates and easily digested. Easily digested meals are relatively low in fiber and fat. These two nutrients slow down digestion. If too much food is left in your stomach when you begin exercising, it will feel very uncomfortable and inhibit your performance. So when it comes to pre-run meals, timing is everything. Larger meals should be consumed 3-4 hours before a workout, while smaller meals can be consumed 1-2 hours before your workout.

Examples of pre-workout meals: toast with peanut butter and honey, oatmeal with fruit, or cereal with a low-fat milk.

Post-Workout Nutrition:

Post-workout meals are key to replenishing and repairing the body. For maximum recovery benefits, consume a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after completing your workout. This is your optimal recovery window, so take advantage of it! Carbohydrates help to replenish muscle fuel and protein repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue. Proper recovery nutrition after a run can help improve performance during your next run.

Examples of recovery meals: turkey/veggies/hummus in a whole wheat wrap, veggie stir-fry with tofu and brown rice, peanut butter and banana in a whole wheat wrap, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana, or a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

Other Tips:

  • Experiment. Early in your training program, experiment with different pre- and post-workout meals and meal timing. Everyone’s body has its own quirks, so there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Keep a journal of what and when you eat and how you feel during your workout. This can help you pinpoint the best meal routine for your body.
  • Practice! Once you’ve found your perfect meal routine, practice it throughout your training. Use long run days as dress rehearsals for the event. Practicing your race day routine, especially your nutrition routine, will help your body perform its best on race day.
  • Don’t be afraid of salt. When I sweat for an extended period of time, my skin is covered in a salty residue. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps with fluid balance in the body and needs to be replaced after hard workouts, especially if you are a salty sweater like me. You may even find yourself craving something salty after a hard workout. Listen to your body! Salty pretzels, whole grain pita chips, or salted nuts can help do the trick. However, this is not permission to devour a bag of potato chips every time you break a sweat. High sodium intake is linked with high blood pressure, so if you or your family have history of high blood pressure, sodium intake should be monitored carefully. Sports drinks also contain sodium, but we’ll save that for next time.

***Just an FYI– Running on Sunshine is moving to a new server, so she may be out of commission for a little bit in the next 24 hours. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and I’ll see you on the other side!

Happy fueling and thanks for reading 🙂


3 Responses to “Workout of the Week: Fueling Your Workout”

  1. emily March 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    I agree: nutrition is such an important component of training! I’m a really salty sweater, so I definitely pay attention to sodium on long run days. 🙂

  2. Laura March 21, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Love it! Refueling is the most important and also the most overlooked. Love the snack suggestions too! Good luck with the rest of training 🙂


  1. Workout of the Week Part II: Hydration « Running on Sunshine - April 3, 2011

    […] For exercise fueling tips, check out Part I […]

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