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September Fitness Tips

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011.  Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. 
(SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011. Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. (SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

How to Run Your Best Run Yet

Strong running begins with great preparation. Properly fitting shoes, environmentally-suited clothing and safe running routes. But, a successful running program also means eating well to support daily, and additional, exercise energy needs. Consuming enough calories and other vital nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and fluids. can make a difference in the long run.

Energy
Calculating the perfect amount of calories you need to support a new training regimen, (but not adding too many, which could cancel out your calorie burn and cause weight gain and a greater risk of injury) is a process. Start by adding an additional 100 calories to your normal daily diet for each mile you run.

Training Nutrition
Carbohydrates, fats, and, to a lesser extent, protein are all sources of fuel for running. Your running intensity and duration, fitness level, gender and diet all impact what fuels you use. Without a diet higher in carbohydrates, you'll run on empty. Opt for carbs from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, because those are higher in vitamins, minerals, fiber and compounds called phytonutrients compared to their sugary counterparts.

To fuel longer runs, healthy unsaturated fats (including peanuts, olives and their monounsaturated oils), soy foods, nuts (such as almonds and pistachios), omega-3s (found in flaxseed oil and fatty fish including salmon), and trans-fat-free unprocessed baked goods and prepared meals are highly recommended.

And, while protein is not your primary fuel for the actual run, it is part of your nutrient support team. Protein is important for runners because it helps to build and repair muscle, aids muscles in contracting and relaxing, builds ligaments and tendons that hold muscles and support bone, and assists with recovery by preventing muscle breakdown. Good sources include chicken, fish, turkey, lean meat, eggs, low-fat dairy or plant-based tofu, beans, peas, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.

Pre-Run Fuel
Pre-run snacks help to maintain optimal levels of blood sugar for muscles and can help restore suboptimal carbohydrate stores called glycogen. Plan to consume this snack 45 minutes to one hour before your run. Toast, cereal, pretzels, a bagel, English muffin, breakfast bar or beverages like coconut water are all examples of easy-to-digest, high-carbohydrate choices. It's not necessary to eat during your run unless it is longer than one hour; water is sufficient to keep your body hydrated.

Recovery Fuel
The key to a fast recovery is to replace one and a half times the amount of fluids lost on the run and to get a high-carbohydrate, high-quality snack within 30 minutes of finishing. Losing one pound of sweat (16 ounces) means replacing 24 ounces of fluids. Weighing in before and after a run can help gauge fluid loss and help determine how much fluid is needed.

Healthy eating equals healthy running, so make the grocery store your first step in preparing your kitchen for the long run! Choose nutritious, tasty, portable foods to make your new program a success!