Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Runners

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Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, we believe there is an inner athlete in all of us. We all may have to dig a little deeper at times but that athlete is there. So get outside and do something you love! Explore. And do it on a daily basis. Life is too short to not to.

We are advocates of a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet for many reasons, but one is because it increases your quality of life from the inside out. We believe this lifestyle is best for optimal health and overall wellness and can help you and your loved ones avoid major preventable diseases. The cool thing is that it’s good for the animals and environment too.

  1. Make sure you eat enough.

Many athletes and people in general fail on a WFPB diet because they fail to eat enough total calories. Whole plant foods in general are low in calories (except for things like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut), but that’s the beauty of it all. We absolutely love food! We would rather be able to fill our stomachs full of lots of good food rather than only a little. People transitioning from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a WFPB diet may not realize that they need to eat more food to get enough calories for their sport. Food=Fuel.

While we don’t recommend counting calories, we do recommend being mindful of how much (or little) you are eating, where the food came from and if it’s nutritious or not. Make sure to take time while you’re eating to not only fully chew your food, but to also allow yourself to be thankful you have a wonderful meal in front of you. This will not only help you slow down and actually enjoy what you’re eating, but will help your brain access how hungry you truly are.

2. Make sure you eat QUALITY.

I’m talking nutrient density here. Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain Complex_Carbscomplex carbohydrates (oatmeal, buckwheat, brown or wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, popcorn, sweet potatoes, squash and other tuber vegetables), beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, nuts (also nut butters) and seeds (chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin) are all packed full of high quality nutrients that your body craves as an athlete.

These types of foods also give your body natural energy, reduce cravings, keep your immune system running well and help your body to recover faster by reducing inflammation. Do you see a pattern here? Pretty much any food that grows from the ground or a plant is considered quality. You can’t go wrong with whole foods. And that means eliminating anything refined and processed.

3. Eat often and eat the rainbow (and we’re not talking skittles here).

We recommend eating every 3-4 hours to help keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism running high. This will also curb cravings and help you to not gorge yourself at dinner. Eating consistently throughout the day will leave you a happier, healthier person. We recommend eating bigger meals early on to make sure you’re giving your body the fuel it needs. Also aim to eat a variety of colors each day of fruit and vegetables. This ensures that you’re getting an array of disease fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants to keep your immune system running strong. Mix it up and have some fun. And don’t forget about fresh herbs and spices!

One thing that Damian and I do with some of our favorite meals it to constantly change the recipe and see what new ingredients we can add to a dish. Or just try a new fruit or vegetable each week. This helps keep food from getting boring, but also helps you get those 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

4. Always have a plan and extra food on hand.

Stuff happens and you always need to be ready. That’s pretty much the life of an athlete right? We always need to expect things to go wrong and have a backup plan of what to do next in order to succeed. The same rule applies to food. If we’re going somewhere, we always bring lunch, some extra snacks and water in case we end up being there longer than expected. This not only helps you stay on track with healthy eating, but also minimizes excuses…. “well, I was hungry and the donut was right there….” Besides, who knows how long that hike you’re on will last. We always tend to be out in nature longer than expected because the “majesticness” of it all sucks you in.  Check out our recipe for energy bites if you happen to be out longer than expected too.

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Top Tips to Run Better!

Who doesn’t want to be a better runner? “Better” isn’t the same for all runners. For some, it means being able to run faster and farther. However, to others it means running injury-free and with more fun and joy. Our passion is helping runners achieve whatever their individual goals are with our proven methods. Here are our top tips for helping you run better whatever that means for YOU.

Improve your running technique

This is the quickest and simplest way to run faster and with fewer injuries. By improving your running biomechanics, you will run with less impact and more efficiency.

Try this tip to get started:  Download a metronome app on your smartphone. Set it to 180 beats per minute and on your next run trying run at 180 steps per minute. Most likely this will be quicker than what you are used to. The goal isn’t to run faster. The goal is to take shorter steps which helps improve running economy and reduce impact. Next, play with your steps/min to find your optimal cadence. Most runners fall between 170-180 steps/min.

We suggest finding a running biomechanics expert who specializes in running technique and will help you find the exact cadence most beneficial for you as well as many other tips to improve your biomechanics.

Improve your Nutrition

Most runners eat pretty well but there is always room for improvement. Optimal nutrition enhances recover, boosts performance and increases energy. The key is finding what works best for you AND sticking to it.

We all know that eating more whole foods such as veggies and fruit is best. The hard part is actually doing it, making it tasty and staying motivated. That is where a nutritional coach can greatly help. We highly recommend finding someone you connect with and will give you what you need and specializes in nutrition for athletes.

Try this delicious smoothie recipe from Lindsey to easily add veggies and fruit to your diet.

Proper Coaching & Training

Training incorrectly even just a little bit can result in injury, poor race performances, burn out and losing your love of running. There are many good but generic training programs online that can help runners. But to maximize your potential, we highly recommend finding a coach that will specifically work with you and your goals and needs. An excellent coach will focus not just on training plans but nutrition, running technique and offer personalized attention. The most important thing is finding a coach you connect with. Doing so will help you achieve your goals quickly and effectively.

We at Wholistic Running offer all-in-one coaching packages to help you with personalized training plans, nutritional coaching and technique improvement. Learn more about our Online Coaching,  Nutritional Coaching and Injury Prevention & Performance Plans which are personalized specifically for you and  have proven benefits for runners of all levels.

Happy Running,

Damian & Lindsey

Downhill Running Tips

I use to hate downhills. They would hurt my knees, bang up my quads and I would get passed by so many runners on them. But after learning how to run them correctly, I now love downhills. They don’t beat up my body at all anymore and downhills are now one of my specialties.

Here are some of my tips for running gradual downhills:

  1. Increase your cadence: Basically, this means taking small steps. Doing so will help reduce impact (especially on your knees) and will save you energy. You will notice how much lighter and quieter you run when you do this. Shoot for around 180 steps per minute.
  2. Engage your ‘core’: Doing so will transfer some of the ground reactive forces from your joints to your strong core muscles. Engage your ‘core’ by gently pulling in your belly button about 20-30% and hold this when you run downhill. Don’t engage too hard or too high which will restrict your breathing. Focus on engaging your lower abdominal muscles especially your transverse abdominus.
  3. Lean slightly down the hill: Many runners put on the brakes when they run downhill. This results in greater impact AND slows you down. As long as you are doing the above focuses, allow yourself to flow down the hill. Don’t lean backwards, instead you should feel a gentle pull down the hill almost like you are falling. When you lean, make sure it is coming from the ankles and you are NOT bending at the waist. It is essential that you first make sure you are running with a high cadence and are engaging your core.

Damian Stoy is the founder of Wholistic Running, biomechanics specialist and professional ultra marathon runner.

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Race Recovery Tips

I share some of my personal tips for optimal recovery:

1. A soak in a creek or a cold bath/pool will help flush your muscles of metabolic wastes.

2. Be sure to go for an easy walk, hike or run each of the next few days to help reduce soreness and tight muscles. Adequate sleep is also essential.

3. Instead of NSAIDS (aspirin, Ibuprofen) that may have harmful side effects, choose natural, food based anti-inflammatories. An all natural supplement that works really well is Tissue Rejuvenator (Get 15% OFF) from Hammer Nutrition.

4. Drink plenty of water and eat a clean, Wholicious Living diet with lots of natural antioxidants and anti-flammatories such as turmeric, ginger, berries, flax oil and wheatgrass.

5. Try to put your legs up a couple times a day. Compression socks or shorts may be beneficial as well. I wear Correct Toes after races which feel so good and keep my feet healthy.

6. Gentle massage after a race can really be beneficial. I sometimes use a foam roller.

The quicker you recover, the quicker you can get back to doing what you love!

Damian Stoy is a professional ultra runner who has been injury-free for over 10 years. He offers online services, workshops, private lessons and nutritional coaching.