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a woman's guide to running in Gainesville
>Nutrition Guide

Maintaing a proper diet full of nutritious meals and snacks will make all the difference in the world during your training period. It is important to consume the proper amount of protein, iron, and carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables, as well as the proper amount of liquids, including sport-energy drinks and gels.

Knowing what goes in, and out, of your body will help you maintain a strong training period and make you more aware of any aches and pains you may experience along your training. Remember to listen to your body's needs and respond in a timely manner. If you are feeling fatigued, get a drink or increase your caloric intake. There are several factors that could contribute to muscle strain or extreme fatigue, but by eating right you can help reduce the stress put on your body.


Perhaps the most important element in the consumption of liquids is knowing what, how much, and when. While it is recommended that you consume vast amounts of water, energy drinks that provide you with extra electrolytes are strongly recommended as well. For some people, water is sufficient via the natural high they get from running, while others prefer the added nutrients from energy drinks. Again, you need to listen to your body and consume liquids accordingly.

For marathons or runs lasting more than four hours, a recommended amount of fluids is about six to eight ounces every 10-15 minutes.

While all runners should consume plenty of fluids during a marathon or race, it is important that runners do not over-hydrate. Although it is a rare occurrence, runners can develop "hyponatremia," a condition in which drinking more than you lose during a run can decrease the concentration of sodium in the blood. It is said that hyponatremia can lead to vomiting, seizures, coma and even death.

Women are more prone to hyponatremia than men.


While training for a marathon, you will also be training your body both mentally and physically. A component that is extremely important - and often overlooked - is what goes into your body in the weeks prior to your run. For each mile that you will be running, you should add about 100 calories to your diet.

For best results, it is recommended that you stick to a diet that meets your body's protein needs, and is both high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat.

The key to proper nutrition is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates consumed by runners are converted into glycogen by the liver and various muscles. Glycogen, which burns quickly and provides runners with energy, can be stored in the body to provide energy for about 18-20 miles of running. At the point that a person's glycogen level drops, running becomes more difficult, and the body must burn stored energy, or fat, which does not burn as readily. Historically, this is the point that most runners report "hitting the wall."

The importance of proper training is preparing your body to maximize the glycogen available so that your level of fatigue is not as dramatic. While some runners do this by using a higher percentage of energy from burned fat during the early phase of the race, the more common approach is to use carboyhydrate-based "energy gels," which help avoid (or reduce) the fatigue when you "hit the wall."

Some good carbohydrates include:
Potatoes, yams, beans, peas, wheat bread, bananas, macaroni, spaghetti, cereal, raisins, apples, bagels, syrup, brown rice, corn, apples, carrots and root vegetables.

While carbohydrates provide your body with the energy it needs, protein and iron are also extremely vital nutrients that you must incorporate into your diet. Consuming at least four to six ounces of protein everyday will help repair muscle tissue. Maintaining adequate iron intake is important in preventing athletic anemia, which causes inadequate oxygenation of the muscles and leads to fatigue.

Some good proteins include:
Low fat milk, beans, green peas, lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese, tofu and soy products.

During these weeks of intense training, nearly 60 percent of your daily food intake should be carbohydrates; 10 percent should come from protein; and about 20 to 25 percent should come from unsaturated fats.

**Note: energy gels usually contain varying amounts of sodium and/or potassium as well as caffeine and they need to be consumed with a certain amount of water. Be sure to read all the nutrition information before consuming an energy gel, which is recommended every 45 minutes to an hour during a marathon or race.

This site created by Jaime Weisser, 2008.