Wolf Run Nutrition
The Food Doctor answers 5 questions from Wolf Runners
The Food Doctor is a nutritional practice founded by Ian Marber (MBANT Dip ION). Ian is a leading Nutrition Consultant, author, broadcaster and health journalist who advises clients on all aspects of nutrition. He has launched a range of healthy food products under the Food Doctor brand.
1) What foods should I try to incorporate into my diet to help my training for the Wolf Run?
Unlike a regular run, the Wolf Run is not just about speed as strength and stamina come into this run too. If you look at the training guide below, you will see that as well as building up distances you need gym sessions too, and so protein intake is more of an issue than it might be for a regular 10k run.
My advice is to combine the food groups: that's complex carbohydrates eaten with a little protein at every meal and snack. You will also need to eat small meals but perhaps more regularly than you are used to. A typical day might be breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and then dinner.
As for specific foods, any complex carbohydrate with any lean protein will do, so you might have porridge with blueberries for breakfast but add in some flaked almonds or walnuts for protein. Or brown toast with an egg. Or plain yogurt with apple and mixed seeds.
All this depends on what time of day you train, as many people prefer not to eat immediately before they run. If that's you, then my advice is to have something small, still combining the food groups, even it's a banana and a couple of Brazil nuts.
2) What foods should I avoid?
It's not specific foods that should be avoided so much as ingredients. Refined sugar won't help at all, not least with blood glucose management, energy and recovery times, and so is to be avoided. High glycemic index foods such as refined, processed carbohydrates (white bread, rice and pasta) may help energy levels in the very short term but won't help much when it comes to endurance if eaten alone. These foods do help expand glycogen levels, but eat alongside a protein to regulate glucose more readily. For example, pasta with a tomato sauce is not recommended but add in a salmon fillet and the ratio between the food groups is more favourable.
3) All this training is making me hungry! Any healthy snacks that I can have between meals?
Absolutely, you should be eating snacks between meals, both mid morning and mid afternoon. Once again, look to combine complex carbohydrates with protein, which can be as simple as some dried fruit with almonds, oat cakes with hummus, wholemeal bread with ham, plain yogurt with cashew nuts and some berries or mackerel pate on a rye cracker.
4) What should I eat the night before the Wolf Run? I usually eat a large plate of pasta, or have lots of bread.
The night before the run you should definitely be having carbohydrates, and so pasta is ideal but do think about adding in some protein but not too much the night before as you won't want to feel overly full. You should eat dinner early to allow plenty of time for the food to pass through you as you ideally want to have a bowel movement in the morning (you can help this along by taking a vitamin C supplement of 500mg with dinner and another last thing at night).
5) Are gels/energy bars/sweets a good idea during the Run to keep my energy up?
Many people rely on sports supplements but some organisers don't allow them as they can give an unfair advantage to some participants. Most bars/drinks/gels rely on glucose and caffeine to create short term energy, and you would have to make your own decisions but if you train well and get the nutrition right during the build up to the run then you might find that you don't need any supplements on the day.
For more information and nutrition/health advice, see www.thefooddoctor.com