Written by Dr Fiona Lithander, Performance Nutritionist and Dietitian
In this blog post, our in-house Dietician and Nutrition expert, Dr Fiona Lithander, gives us the information and advice that we need to stay well-fuelled before and during a long run. Whether you’re taking part in the University of Bristol Run Series Half Marathon or you like to de-stress with a long run in the evenings and on weekend, this post is for you!
Before a run
The key thing is to start your run well fuelled and well hydrated. A pre-race meal is recommended about 3-4 hours before the start of the race. This may differ slightly between people which is why it is important to practice, to see what works best for you.
The University of Bristol Student Roundnet Club was new on the scene in 2019. In this post Committee member, Antoine, writes about the experience of setting up a brand new Bristol SU Sports Club, and shares top tips for any students interested in doing the same thing next year with another new sport!
What is Roundnet?
Roundnet is a relatively new sport which is very popular in the US and is taking the rest of the world by storm. The sport is amazing because it can be played almost anywhere and really caters to all abilities; from your casual BBQ with friends to competing in a World Championship final. The European and UK Roundnet scenes are thriving with new and exciting clubs and tournaments, so it was definitely a great time to get into the sport. Roundnet is also well known for its incredibly friendly and inclusive community, which is at the core of our Club’s ethos.
Roundnet is a sport played by four players in teams of two around a circular net. Once the ball is served onto the net, the other pair have up to three touches to hit it back onto the net. Once the ball contacts the net, possession changes to the other team. There are no boundaries, it is a 360º game! A team wins a point once the other team is unable to return the ball legally onto the net.
The University of Bristol Run Series is a community and wellbeing focused virtual event. Through this event we are encouraging staff, students, alumni and people of Bristol to re-connect with one another over a common goal – be that 5k, 10k a Half Marathon (or all three!) – with the aim of bettering our physical and mental health during a time of anxiety, uncertainty and isolation.
Our ‘Faces of the Run Series’ blog posts will shine a light on individuals who have signed up to one, or more, of our virtual events and ask them to share what brought them to our virtual community this year! Through this blog series, we hope to introduce you to your fellow runners by putting a face to the Facebook profile, email address or Strava user we’ve only had the opportunity to ‘meet’ in 2D so far!
Name: Roy Kiruri Staff or Student: Bristol SU Sabbatical Officer, International Students Run Series Event: Whole Series!
John Wilford is our Sport and Health Manager. He is also a Dad of three who has been navigating working from home and homeschooling over the past year, and he has some wisdom to share.
“A marathon, not a sprint.” This sporting metaphor has been a common refrain over the last year. The last couple of months have become more like a car trip though – “are we there yet?”, “you’re squashing me”, “I feel sick” “I’m hungry”…
The February school break came as a welcome pause even though the break from school was being spent at “school”. Getting teenagers out of bed became even more futile and there were still cries of “the wifi is playing up”, but it was time spent playing games of Among Us and, Youtube content disrupted, instead of Maths lessons or Mrs Wordsmith.
One aspect persisted – physical activity levels stayed low. Previous lockdowns saw a national dip in levels for children with more 5 to 18-year-olds not reaching the recommendations of 60 minutes of physical activity per daythan ever.
Our second Face of the Run Series is this year’s elected Sports and Student Development Officer, Rushab Shah. Rushab has been at home in Nairobi, Kenya since Christmas, which is where he will be running the Run Series virtual 5k on the weekend of 20-21 March.
If I say the words “sports nutrition”, what do you think? For many of us, the predominant image is probably a guy a bit like Arnie, downing a protein shake, wearing tight nylon short-shorts and a slinky vest. Fear not, I’m here to tell you that we can have a far more expansive view of what constitutes sports nutrition. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, anything that you put in your mouth which contributes to your training programme is, in essence, sports nutrition.
If a cup of herbal tea before bed helps you get a good night’s sleep then it is, to you, as important a sports nutrition drink as a protein shake is to Arnie! Nutrition doesn’t have to be prescriptive – a good nutrition programme is about listening to your body and responding to what it needs: if you are hungry then eat and if you are full then stop. There are a few basic points to consider which can help you hit the basics but, generally speaking, being incredibly precise about your food intake is not necessary unless you are an elite athlete training multiple times per day.
Cool down exercises formpart of your wider recovery strategy,designed to return yourbody to its pre-exercise, rested, state as fast as possible. In this post, we will explain and provide examples of cool down strategies you can useafter you have been for a run.
Exercise results in a temporary reduction in performance.This is essential for our bodies to rest and repair, and ultimately promotes the adaptations to our body that will help us in our continued training. Cool-down exercises support and encourage this process so that we can perform exercise more frequently.
Whilst cool–downs don’t directly reduce the risk of injury,theydo help to improveourrecovery time. Our chance of injury in future sessions is therefore reduced as exercising whenfatiguedis a major risk factor for injury.
You’ve signed up to your event, you’ve chosen yourtraining plan, and you’ve got your eyes set on the finish line. Now you’ve just got to lace up your trainers and start running! But before you rush out of the door andbound down the path towards your next5k, 10k, or Half Marathon, it’s worth taking a little time to consider how to safeguard yourself from the hazards and challenges that runners face if not prepared.
Wherever you are running in the world, whatever your level of running experience, and regardless of the distance you’ll be covering, there will be ways in which you need to be smart and savvy with your running; from route planning to the tech you use, and from weather conditions to kit choices.
Running is going to make you hungry. This is great because a) food is delicious and b) if you take a little care over the ingredients you use, you can get some powerful nutrients in your body which will add to the benefits you’re already getting from training.
Just like with any other aspect of your regime, the most important factor determining the effectiveness of your nutrition plan is whether you actually stick to it. If you don’t get that part right then none of the rest really matters. There is no point concocting the perfect blend of spirulina, raw biltong and ground flax seeds for your post-run snack, if realistically you’re going to find that way too difficult to stomach after you’ve got out of bed earlier than usual to do interval training first thing on your Wednesday morning.
The best running food will ideally be nutritious enough that it actively helps your body adapt to your training. It will be easy toprepare and store so that it doesn’t become an inconvenience. It will be cheap enough that you can eat plenty of it without it any negative financial impact. And finally, it will be so delicious that it actually increases your motivation for training.
Warm-ups are designed to get your body ready for upcoming activity, whether that’s running, lifting weights, swimming, or anything else that is over-and-above your ‘normal’ activity level. Preparing your body reduces your risk of injury, improves your performance and prepares you both physically, and mentally.
But what does ‘preparation’ mean in practice? A warm-up must gradually increase your heart rate, which in turn increases your blood flow, muscle temperature and oxygen delivery.
Paul Reay and Toby Hodder, our resident Health and Fitness Advisers, have created this step-by-step break-down of a recommended warm-up for runners. You can follow it through at your own pace, using the tips and photos for guidance. This warm-up uses a RAMP structure, and is perfect to accompany your shorter runs – if you’re currently working on your couch-to-5km training plan, this is for you!