How can I eat well to run well?

PERFORM BETTER, HAVE MORE ENERGY (and eat delicious food!)

Hello! I’m Kate Percy, founder of Go Faster Food and I’m very excited to be working with the Run Mummy Run team over the coming months, providing you with foodie inspiration, simple, easy-to-follow running nutrition advice and of course, delicious family-friendly recipes.

As a ‘sports cook’, marathon runner and author of the Go Faster Food recipe books, I’m passionate about helping runners be the absolute best they can be by fuelling themselves with great food; food that packs a punch, deliciously, to give you the edge. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just starting out, what you eat can have an enormous impact on how you perform and feel.

Running well isn’t just a matter of putting on your trainers and sticking to a training plan. Just like a car, you need fuel. You won’t get far running on empty! But would you put diesel in a Ferrari? Put the wrong type of fuel in your car, it won’t function very well either.

The body works in the same way. Eating the right types of foods, at the right time – a variety of unprocessed, unrefined foods rich in slow-releasing carbohydrate, good quality protein and healthy fats – will strengthen the immune system, keep your muscles healthy, help you recover well and maintain your energy levels. This, in turn, will make you feel completely amazing. You’ll enjoy your running, train and race better and reduce the risk of getting injured.

In this first post you’ll find my 6 top tips to help you eat right to support your training. Later I’ll be posting more specifically on aspects such as carbs, protein, hydration, and, of course, some great recipes to help you on your way

1. Mix It Up!

You’ll run best on a balanced and varied diet. It’s important not to cut out one particular food group, such as carbohydrate, protein or fat. Ideally around one third of what you eat should come from foods rich in slow-releasing, complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta and cereal, oats, quinoa and brown rice, around one third from fruit and vegetables, and the rest from foods rich in protein, such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. Click here for my top 10 Go Faster Foods for Runners.

Salmon and avocado on toast from Go Faster Food for Run Mummy Run

2. Upgrade the Goodie Cupboard

Now you’ve started clocking up the miles you’ll find your hunger increases. You’re burning more calories than your more sedentary self so it stands to reason.

Watch out though. Your body may need extra calories, but raiding the goodie cupboard will undo all that hard work! Try your best to make sure each mouthful is nutritious – unprocessed, fresh and natural. This will maintain your energy levels and keep your muscles healthy.

Make sure your fruit bowl is well-stocked and upgrade the goodie cupboard with healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds, dried fruit, malt loaf and oatcakes or try making some of these very tasty energy bars.

3. Mind Your Pees!

Good hydration doesn’t just mean drinking before, during and after a training session. Keeping well-hydrated throughout the day will help you feel so much better and boost your evening runs.

Keep bottles of water with you, at your desk, in the car, on your bedside table. I sleep with a pint of water on my bedside table which I ‘down-in-one’ as soon as I wake up. You can literally feel your body waking up as you drink! I also take a big bottle of water to work with me and make sure I finish it by the end of the day.

Check your pee! A great way to check you’re drinking enough is to look at the colour of your pee. If it is a pale straw-like colour, then you are well-hydrated. A darker yellow is an indication that you need to drink more.

I’ll be writing a specific post on hydration with some delicious recipes for home made sports drinks, but in the meantime click here for more.

Man desperate for water - Run Mummy Run

4. Fuel Your Runs

Eating 1-2 hours in advance of your runs will give your body enough time to digest the important nutrients needed to fuel your muscles. You’ll train stronger and feel better. Something easy to digest and high in carbohydrate that will gradually release energy to your muscles; a bowl of jumbo oats porridge with blueberries, a wholemeal sandwich with hummus and rocket or even a handful of nuts and raisins and a banana.

If, like me, you are incapable of waking up early enough to eat breakfast before an early morning run, boost your blood sugar with just half a banana or a couple of energy balls before you set off.

Energy Balls fuel for running from Go Faster Food for Run Mummy Run

5. The magic window

Eating and drinking something during the magic window is, I believe, crucial to happy, injury-free running.

The magic window is the time immediately after a run (about 30 minutes). During this window your muscles absorb nutrients more efficiently. Eating something during the magic window will endure your recover quickly and effectively, so you can continue training regularly, and help prevent injury.

Carbohydrate, your most accessible form of energy, is stored in the muscles and liver as ‘glycogen’. After longer runs of, say 60 minutes, glycogen levels become depleted and the quicker they are topped up, the quicker you will recover so that you are ready for your run the next day. A good combo of carbohydrate and protein (3:1 is a good ratio) within the ‘magic window will accelerate your recovery.

Grab something as soon as you finish your workout like a slice of toast with scrambled egg, peanut butter or hummus, an energy bar or flapjack, a piece of fruit (melon is good) or a refreshing home-made smoothie made with milk or yoghurt.

6. 80:20 rules OK

Enjoy your food! It’s what makes running such a pleasure! Please don’t get too hung up on your exact food intake; a relaxed attitude to eating will help you stay focused, feel good, exercise better and enjoy your training without starting to feel that it is a chore. Eating well for around 80% of the time means that you can afford to stray for the remaining 20% without feeling too guilty.

Happy running!

Join me on Facebook (Go Faster Food) or Twitter and Instagram (@gofasterfood) too, or check out  where you’ll find copies of my Go Faster Food books, heaps of yummy running recipes and useful info to help fuel your training.

We’ve also just launched Kate Percy’s Go Bites®. 100% natural and based on one of my more popular recipes, these are tasty, bite-sized energy balls designed to fuel your workouts or your busy days.

Copyright Kate Percy ©2017

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