- Training plan
About this challenge
This challenge focuses on the key areas of running nutrition with suggested snacks and fuelling techniques. On completing all the suggestions in this challenge you’ll have an improved running nutrition knowledge and be on your way to becoming a better runner.
The challenge comprises of individual 7 tasks for you to check off. You can complete each of these tasks at your discretion to fit in with your current training schedule and lifestyle commitments.
beginner Training Plan
Entry requirements: beginner
Open to all who are looking to improve how they fuel their running.
Day 1 – Are you hydrated?
Over a 3 day period, aim to consume 2.5 litres per day and monitor how this affects your performance in training. Aim for a little and often approach – taking sips regularly rather that taking on lots of fluids at once. Everyone’s hydration needs are different but starting at 2.5 litres will give you a steer on your needs the benefits and then you can adjust accordingly.
This might sound like an obvious point, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t stay properly hydrated when they’re running. Aside from the fact it can negatively affect your running, a lack of water in the body whilst exercising can lead to serious health problems. Whereas taking water on a run used to be a chore with cumbersome bottles ruining your form, there are now plenty of options such as belts and ergonomically designed water containers, so there is no excuse not to stay hydrated. The amount you’ll need during the run will vary depending on distance and weather conditions, so try taking frequent small sips until you find a suitable balance of frequency and amount.
Day 2 – Crank up the carbs
Try one of the suggested snack/meal ideas in the Carb loading: 10 snack and meal ideas to give variety to your diet, beat meal boredom and see if certain foods affect your performance.
Think of your body like a car – if you want it to run at its best, you need to put the right fuel in it. Even the most dedicated of runners can have their progress halted by a poor diet. Carbohydrates are a hugely important part of any runner’s diet, as they’ll give you the energy needed to fuel your workouts. Remember, whilst you shouldn’t over indulge on food throughout the day, it’s important you are still eating a sufficient amount. You might think by cutting out food you will aid weight loss, but if you don’t have enough energy for your training sessions they will not be a pleasant experience and could lead to over-compensating with unhealthy foods later in the day.
Day 3 – when and what to eat before a workout
Try one of the suggested ideas in the 5 best pre-run snacks before a training run to see how it works for you.
Yes, you need to eat food to fuel your training sessions, but running on a full-to-the-brim stomach can end in many ways, and none of them are much fun. Cramps, stitches and an upset stomach can all result from running shortly after eating a large meal, and trust us when we say you don’t want to experience any of these. Try to leave two to three hours between a meal and an exercise session and you’ll save yourself a lot of running discomfort.
Day 4 - How to refuel
Try one of the suggested post-run snacks in the 5 best post-run snacks article after a training run to see how it works for you.
Most people don’t feel hungry immediately after a run, so how can you refuel post-workout? We’ve got two words for you: sports drinks. As well as the obvious replacement of fluids, sports drinks have a whole host of benefits. They’ll provide your body with electrolytes and carbohydrates, which will speed up the recovery and refuelling process. However, make sure you select a sugar-free version. Some sports drinks are packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners, which will definitely not be beneficial to your running career. Some also contain a high amount of caffeine, which you should also steer clear of.
Day 5 - Cut back on alcohol
Have a dry week, refrain from alcohol for 7 days to gauge how it affects your training.
This probably won’t be the most popular of tips, but making serious running improvements involves cutting back on a few vices, of which alcohol is one of the main ones. Don’t worry; we’re not saying you need to become a tee-total saint for the rest of your life. However, whilst acceptable in moderation, alcohol does absolutely no favours for your body or your running progress when drank in excess. A boozy night out on the town might seem like a good idea at the time, but when you’ve woken up and missed a run because of a hangover you might just change your mind.
Day 6 – Practice your long run breakfasts
Experiment with one of the 5 perfect breakfasts for runners to see how it works for you.
We don’t need tell you the importance of eating breakfast. As a runner your body needs good quality fuel for training and by waking up your metabolism after sleep; you actually burn more calories through the day. Learning what works for you ahead of a race or a long run is essential. It’s unlikely your normal day-to-day breakfast will carry you through if you are tackling long distances. It’s key to experiment with different breakfasts throughout your running training to find out the perfect one for you. You need to know your tried, tested go-to breakfast recipe you can rely on.
Day 7 – Protein for runners – do you need more?
Task – Calculate your protein needs using the advice in Protein requirements for runners and compare this figure to your average daily consumption of protein to gauge if you are getting enough.
Whether runners require a higher protein intake than normal is a topic of hot debate and continues to rumble on. Protein is essential for growth and repair of tissues, but unless you are regularly participating in strenuous strength, speed or endurance exercise for more than an hour each day, then your protein needs are no greater than those recommended for a healthy, balanced running diet. In practice, providing you are eating enough food to meet your energy and carbohydrate requirements, achieving an adequate amount of protein is fairly easy.