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Diet

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Running the Great North Run truly is a physical challenge and whilst training alone might help you achieve your goals, what you put into your body before and during the race is essential for getting you to the finish line.

Your body can burn over 1,400 calories during a half marathon so you need to be sure that your body is well fuelled to handle it.

Drink Water


We’re told constantly that drinking water is vital for keeping us hydrated, helping our body to flush out toxins and replenish what we lose through our general day to day activities. Drinking water is especially important for exercising and training for any sporting event as well as being absolutely necessary to drink during the Great North Run.

 There is no set rule for how much water you should drink but aim to consume about half of your body weight in ounces each day when training; especially if you’re training on a hot day. Guzzling water can be detrimental before and during your run so be sure to take small sips little and often throughout the run if you need it without gulping as the intake of water and air may result in a stitch.

Most runners will drink water up to two hours before they start a race to avoid having to stop for a bathroom break half-way through. Sipping water as soon as the race has begun will help to keep you hydrated and will prevent you from developing troublesome hiccups or a stitch. There are a number of points along the Great North Run course to allow you to pick up a fresh bottle or refill on water; just be sure to look out as often at water stations, bottles and cups get tossed aside on the road causing a tripping hazard.

Eating when Training


There is no special or specific diet required for training, unless of course you’re trying to stay healthy or lose weight as well; however, planning your meals and snacks a little more carefully before and after your run can give you more energy to tackle the task at hand.

If running in the morning, 'running on empty' is often a good way to kick start your body so long as the activity is no longer than an hour; otherwise you’re going to fatigue sooner. Then afterwards you can indulge in a low-fibre, protein filled, carb-heavy breakfast to repair your muscles and replenish the energy you’ve lost.

Most runners swear by eggs for breakfast, whether they’re poached, boiled or scrambled. Eat with smoked salmon, wholegrain toast, mashed avocado or tomatoes for a well-rounded breakfast that’s filling and nutritious. Porridge with banana or yoghurt with granola and fresh fruit are also favourites among runners. Regular runners might find that protein shakes and smoothies are often a quicker way to refuel when on the move so be sure to prepare these the night before so you can just grab your drink and go; whether you’re off to work or to drop the kids at school, eating well is all part of the routine.

Pre and Post-Run Meals

There is very little difference between post-run and pre-run meals other than the time you should eat it. This should be either a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio, consumed no less than an hour before your run to avoid cramping and stomach issues whereas post-run meals and snacks should be taken 30 minutes after your run to replenish your energy and repair muscles.

Your training meals should always be able to provide the appropriate amount of energy you will need and the best way to do this is by stocking up slow-burning carbs such as a brown rice or pasta, sweet potato, quinoa, cereal and wholegrain breads for a slow, steady release of energy. Similarly you can gain carbohydrates from vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli and kale which also provide plenty of iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals. For your dose of protein, lean meats such as steak, turkey, chicken and fish are all excellent sources that can be cooked in a variety of ways to keep things interesting - though grilling is preferred method of most athletes in training - whilst eggs and beans may be a preferable option for

Snacks

Snacking is also incredibly important to your running routine as you’ll need to top up your energy and blood sugar levels throughout the day. Fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, blueberries and strawberries contain important antioxidants that repair cells, keeping them healthy with required levels of Vitamin C, whilst the water within these fruits and vegetables will do wonders for replacing lost water in the body after exercise, keeping you refreshed and hydrated. For an energy boost, good snacks to include in your diet include healthy fats such as peanut butter, cashew butter, banana and avocado whilst a potassium rich drink like coconut water contains electrolytes that will re-hydrate and restore energy.

Eating Before the Great North Run

Your preparation for the Great North Run should begin in the days leading up to the event by carb-loading regularly throughout the day. Eating every 3-4 hours including lunch and dinner keeps things ticking over and helps your body avoid stiffness and water retention. It also allows more time for your body to digest, absorb and store the nutrients you are providing. On the day before the Great North Run, try to have a carb-filled dinner such as seafood pasta or chicken with brown rice and steamed veg between 4pm and 6pm followed by a snack later in the evening.

On the morning of the run, try to have an easily digestible breakfast at least 90 minutes before the race with an extra snack, should you need it, to have 30 minutes before the gun fires.

 If you require snacks during the Great North Run, some runners opt for protein and energy bars for ease and convenience. However, these days there are all kinds of sports drinks, chews and energy gels you can take during the race for an extra boost. Research which brands will be provided at various points along the race and whether they will be right for you. If you’re unsure, you can always try and test your own to bring on the day.

Once you’ve finished the run, you should aim to consume around 20g of protein at least 30 minutes after in order to allow your body to recover. Whilst it’s tempting to splurge on a large, calorific, fat-filled meal, a carbohydrate heavy dinner such as pasta will help to tackle your hunger.

Why not have a look at our Food and Drink section to find out where you can pick up a bite to eat before or after your run, during your visit to the North East.

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