Healthy Eating Big Factor in Running a Race

A healthy diet is a big part of Steven's preparation.
A healthy diet is a big part of Steven's preparation.

This Saturday, thousands of runners will make great strides over the Talmadge Bridge in the annual Enmark Savannah River Bridge Run.

Runner Steven Vivian has been training, working out, and pacing himself for this 6.2-mile run. But there's one more thing he needs to think about before he hits the pavement: what's he going to eat? While training is important, so is nutrition and hydration. Eating a good meal and drinking plenty of fluids can make the difference in whether you cross the finish line or not.

We've heard that carbohydrates can be bad for us, but for a runner, like Steven, it's fuel for his body. Things like bananas, spaghetti, and rice will convert into sugar. That's good for someone who's been working out.

"Somebody who's been running and training in an endurance form, their muscles will take that sugar and convert it into energy for their race," said exercise specialist Michelle LeFleur.

Energy is just what Steven will need to run the more than six miles up and back the Talmadge Bridge. The carbohydrates will also hold on to water, which will keep runners hydrated during the race.

LeFleur said Steven should keep sipping on water throughout the day. "Hydration is very important. You should be drinking at least eight glasses a day. But if five of them is water and one is a sports drink, that's good too," said Michelle.

In addition to watching how much liquid he drinks, Steven also needs to portion out his meals too. Carbohydrates should make up 70 percent of Steven's diet. Fifteen percent should be protein, like chicken or fish, and the other 15 percent should be fat, like meat.

LeFleur wants Steven to get his eating habits down now, so he's not experimenting with other foods and drinks right before the race. "You want to get on that line feeling like my body's fueled, my muscles are fueled, and whatever is in my system feels comfortable to me," she explained.

Steven tried some energy gels, and a power bar to see what he liked best. In the end, he decided to stick with a plate of pasta. "The main thing I will eat more of is spaghetti," he said Steven. "As long as I eat the things I actually like, that will help me on race day."

The Enmark Savannah River Bridge Run will be this Saturday, starting at 8am. For more information, you can go to Runners can sign up for the race through Friday, December 1.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti,