Thinking of taking up running this summer? Then think about your diet!

Nutritional expert Simon Bandy from Seaford based Health Plus gives advice for beginners

Last summer’s Olympics inspired the nation to get active and play sport. The legacy seems to be going strong, with many keen cyclists and runners seemingly popping up on the streets of Eastbourne, especially now we’re getting into warmer weather.

But whilst many people are taking up cycling and running as a hobby, or an easy way to get fit, there has been an uptake in people signing up for endurance events. For those of you who have signed up to participate in the Beachy Head Marathon in October, it’s time to start training. But alongside physical training, you need to start thinking about your diet, and preparing your body for increased physical activity.

Whether you are a regular competitive runner or a complete beginner lacing up your running trainers for the first time, I

’ve put together a few simple pieces of advice for the ideal foods to eat when preparing for an endurance event:

Carbohydrates are an active person’s best friend, and your body’s main source of energy for aerobic exercise. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is then immediately used by your body for energy, or is stored in the muscles as glycogen.

Carb loading is essential before endurance activities, and even top athletes will indulge in copious amounts of pasta, bread, rice and potatoes. Your body is similar to an engine; if you don’t provide it with fuel then it won’t be able to function. However, opt for complex carbohydrates such as oats and wholegrains like brown rice, which help to sustain energy levels for longer as they are released into the bloodstream more slowly.

Protein is also vital if you want to improve the core muscles used when running. Protein helps to build muscle and tendons, repair broken down muscles, and regulate hormones. Meats, eggs, beans and nuts are common examples of foods that contain significant amounts of protein. Experts agree that runners need 10 to 20% of their daily calories from protein.

Arguably, the most important piece of advice is to always remain hydrated. Water regulates the core temperature of your body. As you run, your working muscles produce large amounts of heat that must be released in order to prevent your temperature rising to dangerously high levels. To dissipate this heat, your body perspires, causing water loss and potential dehydration. So, before, during and after your run you should drink plenty of water. Going back to the engine analogy, a body also needs water to keep it cool and lubricated.

In recent years, several major studies have shown that it makes sense for runners to supplement their normal dietary intake with the antioxidants vitamins C and E and beta-carotene to help the body’s natural processes. Vitamin C can be obtained easily through either fruit juices or supplements. Vitamin E, on the other hand, is not so easily obtained within the diet, but can be found in supplements.

But remember that above all, the key to a successful training programme is positivity and dedication. With a healthy diet on board, this should help you to be the best you can be!

For more information on the Beach Head Marathon visit www.beachyheadmarathon.org.uk

Simon Bandy is a natural supplements expert for Health Plus; a Seaford based business established over 20 years ago with a mission to promote optimum nutrition across the world. Family-owned and run since November 1991, the company supplies a wide range of British made, high quality nutritional supplements at www.healthplus.co.uk