Expert advice on preparing to run a 10K race

Expert advice on preparing to run a 10K race

Author: Canadian Living


Expert advice on preparing to run a 10K race

Q: I am training for a summer 10-kilometre run and would like advice about fitness, food and supplements. How should I prepare nutritionally?

Fran Berkoff replies:
Eat healthy carbohydrates (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals, pasta and grains) for high-octane fuel.

• Eat protein (such as meat, fish or meat alternative) at most meals to help build and repair muscles.

• Drink at least two cups of non-caffeinated fluid two hours before exercising; then drink six to 12 ounces every 15 minutes while exercising.

• On race day, eat a snack about an hour before your run. Choose an easy-to-digest carbohydrate food such as a banana or cereal with skim milk. Avoid eating too much fibre (it can cause discomfort) and fat (it can take a long time to digest).

• After your run, eat carbohydrates and some protein to help repair muscle damage (a banana and yogurt, or chocolate milk).

Q: How should I prepare fitness-wise?

Fitness pro Maureen Hagan replies:
Give yourself 12 weeks to train. Wear good running shoes and a supportive bra. Warm up and cool down for at least five minutes by walking or jogging; stretch the large muscles in your lower body after running.

First four weeks:
Walk/run Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; cross-train (weight train or swim) Tuesday and Friday. Take two days off. Start by jogging for one minute and walking briskly for four, for 30 minutes total. Increase your running time and decrease your walking time until you're running for nine minutes and walking for one (three times an outing). When you're ready, run a full half hour.

Next four weeks:
Vary the length and intensity of your runs. For example, run for 40 to 60 minutes at a slow pace; the next time, run for 20 to 30 minutes at a faster pace. And find a course with hills.

A month before the race:
Make one of your weekly runs a long one. Include at least one 10-kilometre run.

Race day:
Pace yourself; this is about going the distance, not winning a race. If necessary, walk a bit.

For more help, join a learn-to-run program at a running store or hire a personal trainer.

Page 1 of 2 -- For information about supplements, see page 2

Q: Are there supplements I can take that will help?

Naturopath Penny Kendall-Reed replies:
Yes. The following have no known side-effects unless stated.

Antioxidants help decrease damage caused by free radicals (substances in the body generated by pollution, sunlight, conversion of food into fuel and the immune system). Free radicals can reduce performance and impair the repair process that occurs after exercise.
Dose: Take an antioxidant supplement daily –- selenium (100 milligrams), alpha lipoic acid/ALA (50 milligrams) and vitamins A (10,000 international units), C (1,000 milligrams) and E (100 milligrams).

Omega-3 fatty acids help support your immune system.
Dose: 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams a day with food.

Calcium and magnesium help keep bones strong; calcium reduces the risk of muscle tears and stress fractures.
Dose: A combination calcium (500 milligrams) and magnesium (250 milligrams) supplement twice a day.

Iron (if you are low) will improve performance and increase recovery and energy.
Dose: Ask your doctor for a test to see if you are low and to show how much you should take. Take iron with food two hours before or after taking calcium or eating calcium-rich foods (the two minerals block each other's absorption). High doses (100 to 300 milligrams depending on your sensitivity) may cause nausea and constipation.

Read more:
5 kitchen tools that will help you lose weight
20 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Yoga for beginners: How to get started with yoga and meditation

Fran Berkoff is a dietitian/nutritionist in Toronto and coauthor of Power Eating: How to Play Hard and Eat Smart for the Time of Your Life.

Maureen Hagan is director of education at Can-Fit-Pro, an organization of Canadian fitness professionals, and vice-president of operations for Good Life Fitness and VitaVie clubs across Canada.

Penny Kendall-Reed is clinic director at Urban Wellness in Toronto and the author of The New Naturopathic Diet.

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Expert advice on preparing to run a 10K race