For some of us the very thought of slipping on a pair of jogging shoes and hammering around our local park at 8am is a special kind of hell, for others there’s nothing better than a run in the sun.
For every one in between: Parkrun.
It you haven’t heard of Parkrun (really? Where have you been living?), parkrun a simple 5k ‘race’ format designed for runners of all levels, whether you’re just starting out or an experienced runner. If anything, Parkrun is more about community and improving your health than it is about performance. We dig that.
What’s more, parkrun is free every week at thousands of venues around the world. You can find your local run here.
While Parkrun might be a little less hardcore than running many other races, (definitely less extreme than a marathon!) preparing the right way will go a long way to getting more out of it, whatever your goal is.
Understanding what to eat before running isn’t just important for parkrun either, it’ll make a big difference when taking part in any form of exercise or running, so getting good habits from the start is a good way to go.
The Day Before
Knowing what to eat the night before a run can make all the difference between a new PB and an absolute slog-fest (I’ve been there!).
Even if you’re not in it to win it, feeling good when your feet leave the starting line won’t just make you go faster, it’ll help put a smile on your face. Why the heck else are you running?
I know, I know. Carbs! Finally the excuse you’ve been looking for to stuff your face full of bread, pasta and rice.
Carbs are incredibly important as they are our body’s primary source of energy. Carbs are converted into a number of specific energy types such as glycogen, the energy form used by our muscles. Carb loading allows us to maximise the glycogen stores in our muscles ensuring they have as much energy as possible.
That doesn’t mean you can go crazy though! 5km is a relatively short race length, while you’re going burn more energy the less fit you are during a race of this type, but probably not going to deplete your muscles stores.
A good sized pasta dish, some delicious crusty bread or a few extra servings of taters with your evening meal will be the perfect way to make sure you’ve got everything sorted in the tank. Just don’t take it too far, you want to wake up in the morning hungry, not so full you can move when you wake up.
Proper hydration is a weakness for plenty of us but let’s be honest, it’s easy.
Hydrating the day before is an easy way to get your body in the right mode for a run, just don’t go necking down pints of water straight before bed unless you want to go to the loo every 20 minutes.
While you think a quick glass of wine might be the best way to get yourself to sleep the night before a race, alcohol has a seriously detrimental effect on your quality of sleep. Alcohol plays havoc with your body’s blood sugar levels and can disrupt REM sleep, which is the most important period of sleep for recovery.
Sadly, cider and wine don’t count as one of your 5-a-day either, but I like your moxie.
Greasy and high fat foods are definitely one to avoid before race day. Fatty foods can upset your stomach, interrupt sleep and generally make you feel a bit rubbish. While good fats are an important part of our diet, the night before a run is not the time to get them in (keep for the day after!)
Maybe leave this one for another night...
On the Day
Raceday is here!
Keep it light! It’s recommended that you opt for a light, carby meal with a reasonable balance of sugar and protein a few hours before your run. A bowl of yogurt, fruit and a tablespoon of whey protein is the perfect way to start your day with a heart serving on energy.
Why not try it with our very own Oats and Whey Protein Powder? Clicky
Top-off the tank
If you’re anything like me and have an inability to stop grazing, then you might want a small snack before your race.
Opt for either a small piece of low-fibre fruit like a banana, or try a high-protein snack like one of our protein flapjacks. The relatively high quantity of protein will get your body ready to kickstart recovery once your race is over.
Considering the length of Parkrun, there shouldn’t be any need to take water, sports drinks or energy bars with you, especially if you’ve done the legwork (get it). Keep the treats for after the race!
PB or not a PB, who cares. You smashed it.
Recovery after a parkrun is nearly as critical as the run-up (forgive me for that terrible pun).
When we run (and exercise in general) we damage the fibres that make up our muscles. During recovery, our body’s taking the protein we consume through our diet and utilise it to rebuild and reknit our muscle tissues making them stronger.
While you don’t need vast amount of additional protein in your diet if you’re not a body builder or experienced athlete, an extra bump straight after your run is the ideal way to get your recovery off the ground so that you’re that stronger for next week’s run.
For those us without specific dietary requires, most protein bars or flapjack bars are ideal. Typically containing between 10-20 grams of whey protein they provide all the necessary essential amino acids for recovery.
If you follow a vegan diet you’ll need to be a bit more picky. While there are plenty of vegan protein bars (like our very own Gluten-Free Millionaire Crunch - Try it, it’s super delicious) you might want to go for trail mix with a piece of fruit.
Try the Millionaire Crunch - It's vegan and super delicious!
So what do you think? What’s your Parkrun prep? Let us know in the comments!