Posted 02/02/2021 in Category 1

Do long-distance runners know how to look after their nutrition?

Do long-distance runners know how to look after their nutrition?


Most people love to eat; they enjoy their food at home, in restaurants and especially sharing food and conversation with others. But for some people, eating is a much more serious part of their nutritional intake each day because they run long distances in training and competition. Long-distance runners need to pay attention to their body composition and their nutrition to allow them to run at the level they need to compete and succeed. Some athletes have the knowledge and understanding of what their body needs and how their body will survive through the training. Many others, however, lack this nutrition knowledge and suffer malnutrition along the way.


Testing the current nutritional conditions of runners in track and field is gathering pace. Zhang and colleagues analysed the diet nutrition of long-distance runners using big data monitoring. 200 middle and long-distance runners in track and field supported the researchers in this study in China. The researchers used network data monitoring and found unreasonable food structures, insufficient nutrient intake, and an unreasonable proportion of three major energy supplies in the nutrition of track and field middle and long-distance runners in Shandong province. 


There are several difficulties with poor nutrition in the long-run (pardon the pun). Poor nutrition in this group means a significant influence on the physical health of the track and field middle and long-distance runners. But where does one put this situation right? The first and most valuable answer is education. While education seems like an obvious choice here, the detail is more difficult to follow. For example, what is the best and most economical way to teach people across the globe about their nutrition? Second, what is the most accessible information to those who know little about nutritional requirements for sport. Finally, education alone is but one step in the change process, but of course, it is a vital step. Starting with the right education base could help middle and long-distance runner to form a good diet habit and form a scientific concept of diet. If we are to help athletes, we can help them in several ways according to Zhang and colleagues with lectures on dietary habits, human health, diet and disease, food therapy, health care, food hygiene and safety. We can now deliver these programmes online with ease. After this level of education, we can get down to the intake of calcium, B vitamins, and protein, especially high-quality protein – and maintaining these gains. 


From a practical perspective, athletes are usually eating at home or at training grounds or workplaces. Others (e.g., canteens) remove many of the controls we have at home in large canteens, for example. We need to maximise the nutrients within our foods with proper preparation rather than slicing, dicing and boiling unnecessarily. Each athlete needs to help herself or himself in the work they do to maximise their nutrition. Perhaps the best time any athlete could spend right now is to learn about food, their body’s needs, proper food preparation and nutrition. The value of this work will last a lifetime. Many dieticians have begun this work so we can use and engage with them and their knowledge for long-term benefits. 


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Reference

Zhang, D. (2020). Analysis of diet nutrition of long-distance runners based on Big Data monitoring. In Innovative Computing (pp. 201–208). Springer Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-5959-4_25

Image by Ratna Fitry from Pixabay