I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have decided to sign up for my first half marathon! I’m excited and terrified at the same time.

I’ve done five 10 K races and a 14 K last year, so I’ve decided it was time to take this next step. I’ll be running the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon on October 21st.  Apparently I was so excited to book that I didn’t check my schedule first – this race is happening the day after my good friends wedding. Oh well, guess my partner can enjoy a few beverages on my behalf…

As I’m preparing for my October half, I’m buckling down and following a strict training regime. I’m also taking a closer look at my nutrition. I’ve been enhancing my knowledge through literature searches around common nutrient that runners typically lack, along with nutrients that can enhance our performance. It turns out that there are parts of my diet that I may need to enhance!

Due to the stress of the sport and eating habits, there are a number of nutrients that runners need to pay extra attention to.  A 2007 study measured the nutritional profiles of 24 adventure racers and reported low levels of various nutrients, including calcium, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.

  1. Omega 3

    Most of the population lacks omega 3. Omega 3’s have been shown to reduce inflammation after a run, which can improve tissue repair and reduce muscle pain. I personally supplement with omega 3 daily, as studies have shown that omega 3 can prevent exercised-induced asthma (something that I have struggled with my whole life).Getting Enough:  Supplement with 1000 mg daily.  Omega-3 rich foods include fatty fish, but also plant-based sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.

  2. Complex Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are especially important for endurance athletes, such as runners, as they are needed to restore muscle glycogen stores. I’ve seen a number of runners cut too many good carbohydrates out of their diet, for the purpose of watching their waistline. Unfortunatly, this can lead to ‘hitting the wall’ as carbohydrates are the main fuel source for when you run.Getting Enough:  Great natural sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies. Individual carbohydrate requirements vary.

  3. Magnesium

    Magnesium is important for many reasons, including playing a large role in muscle contraction and relaxation, along with energy metabolism. In addition, magnesium plays a role in bone health. A large amount of the North American population are low in magnesium – 70% of the population consumes insufficient magnesium.
    In particular with athletes, there is emerging evidence that magnesium requirements are significantly elevated, due to be lost through sweat.Getting Enough: Aim for ~ 400 mg daily. You can consume pumpkin seeds, legumes or swiss chard to get your magnesium quota. You can supplement as well! Magnesium is usually better when supplemented at night.

  4. Red-Blood-Cell Forming Nutrients.

    Iron is necessary for the production of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to working muscles. Runners are more suseptable to low iron status, as they lose trace amounts of the mineral through footstrike, which damages red blood cells in the feet, leading to iron loss.

    Getting Enough: Males should be aiming for at least 8 mg iron daily and females should be aiming for at least 18 mg. Yes iron is found in red meat, however plant-based iron-rich sources include legumes, especially lentils, blackstrap molasses

    B-12 also assists with forming new red blood cells and a deficiency can lead to anemia.

    Getting Enough: Aim for 2..4 mcg daily. You get B12 through animal-based foods, however can also get it though fortified plant-sources, such as nutritional yeast and fortified plant beverages.

  5. Bone-Building Nutrients

    Calcium Running can strengthen bones, however you need calcium to support this processes. If you body lacks these nutrients, your bones can weaken, leading to tress fractures and osteoporosis.Getting Enough:  We can prevent these by consuming 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily. Calcium-rich food sources include cows milk, foritifed plant-based beverages, white beans, cooked green leafy veggies.

    Vitamin D A 2012 study found that when vitamin D was low in a group of runners, they had a biomarker for increased inflammation. Low vitamin D can increase your risk for inflammation-related muscle injury.

    Getting Enough: Aim for 1000 IU’s minimum daily. You will likely need to supplement, as so few foods contain adequate vitamin D.




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