Training hard for the Great North Run but unsure how best to organise your diet and sleep before the race? Preparing your body to run the 13.1-mile course may seem like a daunting task, but Gavin Watt and Aidan Innes, award-winning health and wellbeing physiologists at Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital, in Jesmond, are here to help.
They’ve put together some top tips to make sure you’re in peak health before, during and after the big day.
In the run-up to the race, here’s what you should be eating and drinking:
- Complex carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, are the order of the day. As your training load increases, eating more complex carbohydrates will boost muscle glycogen stores, which will act as much-needed fuel during endurance runs. Then, as your training load decreases in the days leading up to the race, this will ensure your glycogen levels are topped up.
- On the morning of the run, a breakfast of complex carbohydrates, like porridge, will ensure you are filled with slow energy-releasing carbs to help you power through the race until you can get to the energy stations.
- Always make sure to stay hydrated before you run as being dehydrated can negatively affect your performance. Your urine should be a light straw colour; if it’s darker, you need to drink more water. Don’t overhydrate, though, (shown by clear urine) as this will increase your need to urinate – not something you want halfway across the Tyne bridge with more than 10 miles still to go!
Here’s Gavin and Aidan’s advice on what to eat after the race:
- You’ll need to be eating protein, carbohydrates, and more protein. You’re going to be stiff but increasing your protein consumption will help speed up your recovery while the carbs will help to restore that muscle glycogen, which will be severely depleted.
- Continue this increased protein consumption in the days following the race; ensure you have a portion of protein with every single meal.
Getting good quality sleep is vital for performance in day to day life, but it’s particularly important when it comes to preparing for an event like the Great North Run. Here are Gavin and Aidan’s tips on getting the best quality sleep possible:
- You should be aiming for between six-and-a-half and eight hours sleep each night.
- Create a good sleep environment. If there is too much light, try a sleep mask; if it’s too noisy, get some earplugs – both can be bought cheaply online.
- Avoid stimulants before bed. Caffeine, exercise and alcohol will all impact on the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid mobile phone and TV screens for the 30 minutes before you go to sleep – even turning on the light in the bathroom to clean your teeth can impact your sleep quality: keep lights dim and try reading a book instead of watching TV.
- Listening to music or doing some gentle stretching such as yoga before bed can help you get to sleep and improve sleep quality.
Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital offers a variety of health assessments, designed to give you a comprehensive view of your health covering key health concerns such as diabetes, heart health, cancer risk and emotional wellbeing.
For more information, visit www.nuffieldhealth.com/health-assessments or call 0333 305 7077.