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rec.running FAQ, part 5 of 8

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Archive-name: running-faq/part5
Last-modified: 10 Mar 2003
Posting-Frequency: 14 days

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

Nutrition in athletics is a very controversial topic. However, for an
athlete to have confidence that his/her diet is beneficial he/she must
understand the role each food component plays in the body's overall makeup.
Conversely, it is important to identify and understand the nutritional
demands on the physiological processes of the body that occur as a result
of racing and training so that these needs can be satisfied in the
athlete's diet.

For the above reasons, a basic nutrition primer should help the athlete
determine the right ingredients of his/her diet which fit training and
racing schedules and existing eating habits. The body requires three basic
components from foods: 1) water; 2) energy; and 3)nutrients.


Water is essential for life and without a doubt the most important
component in our diet. Proper hydrations not only allows the body to
maintain structural and biochemical integrity, but it also prevents
overheating, through sensible heat loss(perspiration). Many *runners* have
experienced the affects of acute fluid deficiency on a hot day, better
known as heat exhaustion. Dehydration can be a long term problem,
especially at altitude, but this does not seem to be a widespread problem
among *runners* and is only mentioned here as a reminder (but an important


Energy is required for metabolic processes, growth and to support physical
activity. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences
has procrastinated in establishing a Recommended Daily Allowance(RDA) for
energy the reasoning being that such a daily requirement could lead to
overeating. A moderately active 70kg(155lb) man burns about 2700 kcal/day
and a moderately active 58kg(128lb) woman burns about 2500 kcal/day.

It is estimated that runners burn XXXX kcal/min or about XXX-XXX kcal/hr
while *running* (this is obviously dependent on the level of exertion).
Thus a three hour training *run* can add up to XXXX kcals(the public knows
these as calories) to the daily energy demand of the *runner*. Nutritional
studies indicate that there is no significant increase in the vitamin
requirement of the athlete as a result of this energy expenditure.

In order to meet this extra demand, the *runner* must increase his/her
intake of food. This may come before, during or after a *run* but most
likely it will be a combination of all of the above. If for some reason
extra nutrients are required because of this extra energy demand, they will
most likely be replenished through the increased food intake. Carbohydrates
and fats are the body's energy sources and will be discussed shortly.


This is a broad term and refers to vitamins, minerals, proteins,
carbohydrates, fats, fiber and a host of other substances. The body is a
very complex product of evolution. It can manufacture many of the resources
it needs to survive. However, vitamins, minerals and essential amino
acids(the building blocks of proteins) and fatty acids cannot be
manufactured, hence they must be supplied in our food to support proper

Vitamins and Minerals

No explanation needed here except that there are established RDA's for most
vitamins and minerals and that a well balanced diet, especially when
supplemented by a daily multivitamin and mineral tablet should meet all the
requirements of the cyclist.

Proper electrolyte replacement(sodium and potassium salts) should be
emphasized, especially during and after long, hot rides. Commercially
available preparations such as Exceed, Body Fuel and Isostar help replenish
electrolytes lost while *running*.


Food proteins are necessary for the synthesis of the body's
skeletal(muscle, skin, etc.) and biochemical(enzymes, hormones,
etc.)proteins. Contrary to popular belief, proteins are not a good source
of energy in fact they produce many toxic substances when they are
converted to the simple sugars needed for the body's energy demand.

Americans traditionally eat enough proteins to satisfy their body's
requirement. All indications are that increased levels of exercise do not
cause a significant increase in the body's daily protein requirement which
has been estimated to be 0.8gm protein/kg body weight.


Carbohydrates are divided into two groups, simple and complex, and serve as
one of the body's two main sources of energy.

Simple carbohydrates are better known as sugars, examples being fructose,
glucose(also called dextrose), sucrose(table sugar) and lactose(milk

The complex carbohydrates include starches and pectins which are
multi-linked chains of glucose. Breads and pastas are rich sources of
complex carbohydrates.

The brain requires glucose for proper functioning which necessitates a
carbohydrate source. The simple sugars are quite easily broken down to help
satisfy energy and brain demands and for this reason they are an ideal food
during racing and training. The complex sugars require a substantially
longer time for breakdown into their glucose sub units and are more suited
before and after riding to help meet the body's energy requirements.


Fats represent the body's other major energy source. Fats are twice as
dense in calories as carbohydrates(9 kcal/gm vs 4 kcal/gm) but they are
more slowly retrieved from their storage units(triglycerides) than
carbohydrates(glycogen). Recent studies indicate that caffeine may help
speed up the retrieval of fats which would be of benefit on long rides.

Fats are either saturated or unsaturated and most nutritional experts agree
that unsaturated, plant-based varieties are healthier. Animal fats are
saturated(and may contain cholesterol), while plant based fats such as corn
and soybean oils are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are necessary to supply
essential fatty acids and should be included in the diet to represent about
25% of the total caloric intake. Most of this amount we don't really
realize we ingest, so it is not necessary to heap on the margarine as a
balanced diet provides adequate amounts.


Now that we have somewhat of an understanding of the role each food
component plays in the body's processes let's relate the nutritional
demands that occur during *running* in an attempt to develop an adequate
diet. Basically our bodies need to function in three separate areas which
require somewhat different nutritional considerations. These areas are: 1)
building; 2) recovery; and 3) performance.


Building refers to increasing the body's ability to perform physiological
processes, one example being the gearing up of enzyme systems necessary for
protein synthesis, which results in an increase in muscle mass, oxygen
transport, etc. These systems require amino acids, the building blocks of
proteins. Hence, it is important to eat a diet that contains quality
proteins (expressed as a balance of the essential amino acid sub units
present)fish, red meat, milk and eggs being excellent sources.

As always, the RDA's for vitamins and minerals must also be met but, as
with the protein requirement, they are satisfied in a well balanced diet.


This phase may overlap the building process and the nutritional
requirements are complimentary. Training and racing depletes the body of
its energy reserves as well as loss of electrolytes through sweat.
Replacing the energy reserves is accomplished through an increased intake
of complex carbohydrates(60-70% of total calories) and to a lesser extent
fat(25%). Replenishing lost electrolytes is easily accomplished through the
use of the commercial preparations already mentioned.


Because the performance phase(which includes both training *runs* and
racing)spans at most 5-7 hours whereas the building and recovery phases are
ongoing processes, its requirements are totally different from the other
two. Good nutrition is a long term proposition meaning the effects of a
vitamin or mineral deficiency take weeks to manifest themselves. This is
evidenced by the fact that it took many months for scurvy to show in
sailors on a vitamin C deficient diet. What this means is that during the
performance phase, the primary concern is energy replacement (fighting off
the dreaded "bonk") while the vitamin and mineral demands can be

Simple sugars such a sucrose, glucose and fructose are the quickest sources
of energy and in moderate quantities of about 100gm/hr(too much can delay
fluid absorption in the stomach) are helpful in providing fuel for the body
and the brain. Proteins and fats are not recommended because of their slow
and energy intensive digestion mechanism.

Short, *runs* or races of up to one hour in length usually require no
special nutritional considerations provided the body's short term energy
stores (glycogen) are not depleted which may be the case during *long*

Because psychological as well as physiological factors determine
performance most *runners* tend to eat and drink whatever makes them feel
"good" during a *run*. This is all right as long as energy considerations
are being met and the stomach is not overloaded trying to digest any fatty
or protein containing foods. If the vitamin and mineral requirements are
being satisfied during the building and recovery phases no additional
intake during the performance phase is necessary.


Basically, what all this means is that good nutrition for the *runner* is
not hard to come by once we understand our body's nutrient and energy
requirements. If a balanced diet meets the RDA's for protein, vitamins and
minerals as well as carbohydrate and fat intake for energy then everything
should be OK nutritionally. It should be remembered that the problems
associated with nutrient deficiencies take a long time to occur. Because of
this it is not necessary to eat "right" at every meal which explains why
weekend racing junkets can be quite successful on a diet of tortilla chips
and soft drinks. However, bear in mind that over time, the body's
nutritional demands must be satisfied. To play it safe many *runners* take
a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement tablet which has no adverse
affects and something I personally recommend. Mega vitamin doses(levels
five times or more of the RDA) have not been proven to be beneficial and
may cause some toxicity problems.


"Good" nutrition is not black and white. As we have seen, the body's
requirements are different depending on the phase it is in. While the
building and recovery phases occur somewhat simultaneously the performance
phase stands by itself. For this reason, some foods are beneficial during
one phase but not during another. A good example is the much maligned
twinkie. In the performance phase it is a very quick source of energy and
quite helpful. However, during the building phase it is not necessary and
could be converted to unwanted fat stores. To complicate matters, the
twinkie may help replenish energy stores during the recovery phase however,
complex carbohydrates are probably more beneficial. So, "one man's meat may
be another man's poison."


This term refers to the quantity of nutrients in a food for its
accompanying caloric(energy) value. A twinkie contains much energy but few
vitamins and minerals so has a low nutrient density. Liver, on the other
hand, has a moderate amount of calories but is rich in vitamins and
minerals and is considered a high nutrient density food.

Basically, one must meet his/her nutrient requirements within the
constraints of his/her energy demands. Persons with a low daily activity
level have a low energy demand and in order to maintain their body weight
must eat high nutrient density foods. As already mentioned, a *runner* has
an increased energy demand but no significant increase in nutrient
requirements. Because of this he/she can eat foods with a lower nutrient
density than the average person. This means that a *runner* can be less
choosy about the foods that are eaten provided he/she realizes his/her
specific nutrient and energy requirements that must be met.


Now, the definition of that nebulous phrase, "a balanced diet". Taking into
consideration all of the above, a diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables
(fresh if possible), whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, milk, eggs, fish
and red meat(if so desired) will satisfy long term nutritional demands.
These foods need to be combined in such a way that during the building and
recovery phase, about 60-70% of the total calories are coming from
carbohydrate sources, 25% from fats and the remainder(about 15%) from

It is not necessary to get 100% of the RDA for all vitamins and minerals at
every meal. It may be helpful to determine which nutritional requirements
you wish to satisfy at each meal. Personally, I use breakfast to satisfy
part of my energy requirement by eating toast and cereal. During lunch I
meet some of the energy, protein and to a lesser extent vitamin and mineral
requirements with such foods as yogurt, fruit, and peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches. Dinner is a big meal satisfying energy, protein, vitamin and
mineral requirements with salads, vegetables, pasta, meat and milk. Between
meal snacking is useful to help meet the body's energy requirement.


All this jiberish may not seem to be telling you anything you couldn't
figure out for yourself. The point is that "good" nutrition is not hard to
achieve once one understands the reasons behind his/her dietary habits.
Such habits can easily be modified to accommodate the nutritional demands
of *running* without placing any strict demands on one's lifestyle.

------------------------ Powerbars (John McClintic johnm@hammer.TEK.COM)

I submit "power bar" recipe originated by Bill Paterson from Portland Oregon.

The odd ingredient in the bar, paraffin, is widely used in chocolate
manufacture to improve smoothness and flowability, raise the melting point,
and retard deterioration of texture and flavor. Butter can be used instead,
but a butter-chocolate mixture doesn't cover as thinly or smoothly.


1       cup regular rolled oats
1/2     cup sesame seed
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, finely chopped 1 1/2 cups raisins 1  cup
shredded unsweetened dry coconut
1       cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2     cup nonfat dry milk
1/2     cup toasted wheat germ
2       teaspoons butter or margarine
1       cup light corn syrup
3/4     cup sugar
1 1/4 cups chunk-style peanut butter
1       teaspoon orange extract
2       teaspoons grated orange peel
1       package (12 oz.) or 2 cups semisweet chocolate
baking chips
4       ounces paraffin or 3/4 cup (3/4 lb.) butter or

Spread oats in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300 degree oven until
oats are toasted, about 25 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.

Meanwhile, place sesame seed in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium
heat. Shake often or stir until seeds are golden, about 7 minutes.

Pour into a large bowl. Add apricots, raisins, coconut, almonds, dry milk,
and wheat germ; mix well. Mix hot oats into dried fruit mixture.

Butter the hot backing pan; set aside.

In the frying pan, combine corn syrup and sugar; bring to a rolling boil
over medium high heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter, orange
extract, and orange peel.

At once, pour over the oatmeal mixture and mix well. Quickly spread in
buttered pan an press into an even layer. Then cover and chill until firm,
at least 4 hours or until next day.

Cut into bars about 1 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches.

Combine chocolate chips and paraffin in to top of a double boiler. Place
over simmering water until melted; stir often. Turn heat to low.

Using tongs, dip 1 bar at a time into chocolate, hold over pan until it
stops dripping (with paraffin, the coating firms very quickly), then place
on wire racks set above waxed paper.

When firm and cool (bars with butter in the chocolate coating may need to
be chilled), serve bars, or wrap individually in foil. Store in the
refrigerator up to 4 weeks; freeze to store longer. Makes about 4 dozen
bars, about 1 ounce each.

Per piece: 188 cal.; 4.4 g protein; 29 g carbo.; 9.8 g fat; 0.6 mg chol.;
40 mg sodium.


Orienteering (Matt Mahoney updated

Orienteering is called the "thinking sport" because it involves two skills
-- running and map reading. The object is to run to a series of markers in
the woods, along any route you want. The hard part is finding the markers
with the aid of a map and a compass.

There are 6 courses to choose from, called White, Yellow, Orange, Green,
Red and Blue. This has nothing to do with the colors of the markers (which
are orange and white and look like lanterns hanging from trees). It has to
do with level of difficulty, like belts in karate. The white course is the
easiest, about a mile, with the markers clearly visible from roads or
trails. Blue is the hardest, about 4-5 miles, and involves mostly
cross-country running with emphasis on successful navigation using terrain
features. Each marker has a 2-letter code (to distinguish it from markers
on other trails) which you match up with a code sheet that you carry with
your map. There, you stamp your card in the appropriate numbered spot. Each
stamp produced a distinct pattern of holes in the card.

Orienteering now has its very own news group,  The
BAOC newsletter is run by Wyatt Riley out of Stanford (wriley@leland. Subscription requests should be sent to:
         with the following line in the text:
         subscribe baoc your name           e.g. subscribe baoc Bill Clinton
BAOC home pg:
============================================================= Predicting
times (10k-marathon) (Tim

In `Training Distance Runners' Coe and Martin come up with three sets of
formulas for determining equivalent race performances over several
distances when the performance for one distance is known. They have three
tables to counter problems of athlete specificity.

For long distance specialists (i.e 10k/15km) : Marathon = 4.76Y : 10k = Y
: 5k = 0.48Y
: 3k = 0.28Y
: 1.5k = 0.13Y

For 3k/5k runners : 10k = 2.1Y
: 5k = Y
: 3k = 0.58Y
: 1.5k = 0.27Y
: 800m = 0.13Y
: 400m = 0.06Y

For `real' middle distance: 5k = 3.63Y
: 3k = 2.15Y
: 1.5k = Y
: 800m = 0.48Y
: 400m = 0.22Y


Running Clubs & Organizations (John Berkery

ARFA - American Running and Fitness Association 9310 Old Georgetown Rd
Bathesda MD 20814

ARRA - Association of Road Racing Athletes (professionals) 807 Paulsen Bldg
Spokane WA 99201

Clydesdale Runners Association (heavyweights) 1809 Gold Mine Rd
Brookville Md 20833

NWAA - National Wheel Chair Athletic Association 3617 Betty Dr, suite S
Colorado Springs CO 80907

RRCA - Road Runners Clubs of America
629 S. Washington St
Alexandria VA 22314

Special Olympics (handicapped)
1350 New York Ave, NW, suite 500
Washington DC 20005

TAC - The Athletics Congress of the USA (IAAF member) 1 Hoosier Dome, suite 140
Indianapolis IN 46225

USABA - U.S. Association for Blind Athletes 33 N. Institute St
Brown Hall, suite 015
Colorado Springs CO 80903

USCAA - U.S. Corporate Athletics Association (company teams)
401 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, 60611-4267
(312) 644-6610, fax (312) 527-6658
WWW site -

BACAA - Bay Area Corporate Athletics Assn.
northern California affiliate of the USCAA
Brian Schonfeld, Sun Microsystems, (415) 786-7801,
Mal Murphy, Rocje Bioscience, (415) 960-5583,
WWW site -

USCPAA - U.S. Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association 34518 Warren Rd, suite 264
Westland MI 48185

USOC - U.S. Olympic Committee
1750 E. Boulder St
Colorado Springs CO 80909-5760

Achilles Track Club (handicapped)
c/o New York RRC
9 East 89th St
New York NY 10128

Other running organizations
Many road runners clubs are not affiliated with RRCA. Information about
these independent clubs may be found at local sporting goods stores or at
athletic shoe stores. Local YMCA/YWCA organizations may also be able to
supply a contact address or phone number.

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