You may believe that you need to train harder and very often to perform well. I disagree. I train infrequently and perform well (see my race results) because I believe in quality over quantity and I use these tips I am sharing with you now. Specific foods, supplements and an efficient running technique can greatly reduce fatigue, improve your performance and make for a more enjoyable running experience. So what causes fatigue when you run?
Energy inefficiency: The most effective way to have a less fatigue when you run is to reduce energy expenditure. If we can run more efficiently, we can run faster and farther with less effort and more joy. Running can literally be easier. An efficient running technique reduces energy expenditure and increases performance. Chi Running is the simplest and most effective running technique to learn. Damian teaches the Chi Running technique and has fantastic results for runners of all levels.Oxygen debt: Muscles require maximum oxygen to function optimally. How do we increase our oxygen capacity? One way is by consuming adequate iron and chlorophyll. Iron, a component of hemoglobin, is what transports oxygen throughout the body.
Foods to consume daily for optimal iron levels in the blood:
- Spirulina, blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens, cherries
- ‘Blood Builder’ by Mega Foods and Floradix ‘Iron and Herbs’
- Chlorophyll is very similar in molecular structure to hemoglobin. Some believe chlorophyll acts in the body the same way and thus increases oxygenation of the body. Look for dark green foods. MacroLife Naturals has a variety of fantastic products I highly recommend!
Metabolic waste buildup: Waste products build up in the muscles causing fatigue (i.e. lactic acid). We can improve the body’s capacity to eliminate wastes by improving the detox processes of the body. We do this with overall body health, specifically liver, kidney, and digestive system efficiency. Having a healthy body pH is crucial for overall health but also to handle the excessive waste products accumulated during running. An alkaline body will feel much less fatigued during a race than an acidic body.
- Alkalizing foods: Fruits and vegetables, wheatgrass, lemons, apple cider vinegar
- Acidifying foods: Meat, excess protein, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee
- Detoxing foods heal the liver, kidneys and digestive system: Lemons, milk thistle, and wheatgrass
Impact and stress on muscles: Impact causes injury and fatigue during races. Reducing impact is crucial for increased performance especially for longer distances but is helpful for all races. The best way to minimize impact is an efficient, low impact running technique. I believe Chi Running is the most effective running technique for reducing impact and increasing performance. Minimalist shoes also help promote a ‘light’ running technique.
Inflammation: Excessive inflammation also causes fatigue. We can reduce inflammation by going into a race with a ‘healthy’ inflammation response. Consuming omega-3’s and other natural anti-inflammatories daily helps decrease inflammation during races. I recommend flax oil, Zyflamend and Tissue Rejuvenator daily. High daily antioxidant levels as well as during a race reduces muscle damage and fatigue. Incorporate goji berries, wheatgrass, fresh juices and lots of fruits and veggies for high levels of natural antioxidants.
Inadequate glycogen: Optimally, we have roughly 2500 calories of stored glycogen in our body if trained well. However, if not trained well, we have less stored glycogen. This, as well as improper training, poor technique and insufficient fueling during a race is why people ‘bonk’ at mile 22 in a marathon. You can estimate that you burn about 100 calories/mile. Having optimal levels of glycogen in the body is crucial for reducing fatigue. Muscles store the majority glycogen with some elsewhere including the liver. Recovery, specifically, getting carbs into your system right after training runs is how we literally train the body to store more glycogen. Your muscles act like sponges after a run, this is when to pump them full of glycogen and train them to store more. This is why it is so important to eat right after a run including high carbohydrates, maybe some protein and little or no fat. Eating a larger meal later that is higher in protein and quality fats will speed recovery.
‘Teaching’ the body to burn fat as a primary fuel source instead of glycogen is incredibly valuable for increasing performance. Long runs over two hours teach the body to use fat more efficiently thus reducing chances of bonking and fatigue.
Pre-Race: I rest 7-21 days before a race, depending on the specific race. You can rarely rest too much. But you can run too much before a race. As I taper for a race I also modify my diet. I reduce protein 3-5 days before a race and focus on alkalizing the body. I also incorporate nutrient dense foods and don’t eat any diary, eggs, simple sugars or wheat. I don’t want any excess mucus in body, especially the lungs where breathing is then compromised. I also may incorporate extra supplements such as flax oil, Zyflamend, maca, ginseng, wheatgrass, spirulina and iron rich foods. I make sure to have sufficient electrolytes in my body by consuming Endurolytes and Sport Legs for a few days before a race.
Race: During 50 and 100 mile races, I’ll take consume alkalizing foods such as wheatgrass, foods high in iron and Zyflamend or Tissue Rejuvenator. The morning of the race, I eat very little. People are surprised to hear I eat a banana or two and that’s it before a 50 mile race. I don’t want my digestive system taxed during the race. If prepared properly, my body should have plenty of stored glycogen already. Please be advised, I am pushing myself harder than the average runner and therefore am very picky. Also, do not try any new food right before a race of course.
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about how to perform better and have your best run ever.
- An easier and lower impact running and walking technique
- Foods for Increased Health, Healing, Energy and Performance
- Would you like running to be easier and more enjoyable?
- Barefoot Running and Minimalist Shoes
- Yoga and Running
- Why I love Running
- Why a Focus on Running Form?
- Why I’m so passionate about Chi Running
- Running and Yoga Retreats