When you think of improving your running speed, do you think of heading out to your favorite restaurant? Probably not. But I’m here to tell you that there’s more to improving speed than fartleks, hill-repeats, and plyometrics. While it’s evident that these tactics do improve speed, they shouldn’t be the only items on your “speed-training menu”.
I want to make clear that I’m not discounting a training plan. Having a clear-cut strategy to attain your goals is crucial to your success. Plus, you’re not going to get fast by sitting on the couch eating healthy foods.
A commonality among all humans (or mammals for that matter), is the fact that we burn fuel for energy. And what is our source of fuel? Food! So you can see how important it is that we nourish our bodies with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.
A simple change in one’s diet can lead to dramatic changes in their overall performance. Let’s take a look at some foods you should avoid, and those which you should be including, in your diet. Following even a few of these suggestions is sure to boost your pace.
All meats and animal bi-products – animal proteins act as a catalyst for inflammation, making it harder to recover from your workouts. Removing meat, eggs, and dairy, and replacing them with plant-based foods will speed up recovery, allowing you to minimize your time between workouts.
Processed foods – The more processed a food, the harder it will be for your body to break it down. Eat whole foods to minimize the energy your body is using for digestion. That energy is best used for running!
Sports Supplements – Gus, gels, and Gatorade are just a few of the sports supplement products on the market that promise to promote performance. But many of these “food-like” supplements are either a) highly processed, b) contain ingredients that will cause you to crash, or c) negatively affect digestion due to the large number of ingredients.
Kale – this green leafy vegetable has been deemed a superfood by runners all over the world. With its high levels of Calcium, plus Vitamins C and K, it helps to build strong bones and remove pesky inflammation. Many runners blend up their kale in green smoothies for a refreshing cold post-run treat!
Nuts – loaded with healthy fats, magnesium, and calcium, nuts work to stabilize the body’s PH levels. And neutralizing the body’s acidity leads to speedier recover and healthier joints. Plus, nuts contain a substantial amount of protein which is important for repairing muscles.
Spirulina (blue-green algea) – Fairly new to hit the American market is spirulina. This smelly green plant-food hosts a plethora of benefits for runners. It contains the highest amount of protein (per-ounce) of any food. Spirulina houses all essential aminos, including Omega 3, 6, and 9. The protein in Spirulina is highly usable and has a net protein utilization rate of between 50-61%. Need another reason to ingest this green plant? It contains 26 times the calcium of milk! You can get spirulina in several forms; most commonly a powder or tablet. ENERGYbits is a company that specializes in spirulina tablets for athletes.
- Related Article: Running on a Vegan Diet