Athletes participate in cross country for a multitude of reasons: being part of an amazing team, stress relief, improving mood and grades, lifelong friendships, etc. In addition, most runners want to see their fitness and race times improve. The latter requires more than just showing up and running. It requires adequate sleep, maintenance (trigger point, stretching, cross training, etc.), and proper nutrition.
For sleep, the plan is easy: get eight hours of it. Take naps when possible. Done. Or rather, easier said than done, but eight hours should always be the goal.
Maintenance is also fairly straight forward: do it. We do it after practice. Do some on your own as needed.
Nutrition can be somewhat tricky, therefore we wrote up a nutrition plan for you to follow in season, and perhaps in the off seasons as well. It is fairly general, and while comprehensive enough for most athletes, seeking the opinions of a nutritionist or medical professional is never a bad idea.
A 150 calorie snack, 30 minutes to an hour before a run, is highly recommended. Your body burns both carbs and fats during a run and running on a depleted system is like driving a car with very little gasoline: you may be able to get started, but you may not be able to finish!
Here are some delicious examples of pre-race snacks that will help you run and feel great:
- Whole wheat toast with nut butter.
- Banana and a small handful of cashews.
- Whole grain crackers and hummus.
- Small bowl of cereal.
- Half a fruit-and-nut bar.
- Cheese stick and carrots.
- Hard boiled egg and small cup of juice
Post-Run / Breakfast
Eating within an hour of finishing a run is very important to your body’s ability to recover. The two key macronutrients are carbs (needed to replenish your glycogen stores, which will prevent lethargy later in the day and ensure you have energy for tomorrow’s run) and proteins (to help rebuild your muscles).
Here are some examples of delicious and nutritionally dense post-run / breakfasts that will satisfy your hunger, provide you with energy for the day, and fill your body with the building blocks to support your body’s recovery:
- Oatmeal with nut butter and fruit.
- Fruit / green smoothie with protein powder or nut butter.
- Medium to large bowl of granola and (dairy or dairy-free) yogurt.
- Taco/s with eggs, meat, or beans and fruit.
- Banana, apple, granola bar, and milk (can be chocolate and/or non-dairy).
It’s salad time. When possible, eating a large salad once a day is money in the bank when it comes to your training. In addition, rather than feeling blah during your post lunch classes, you are revitalized, ready to crush those math problems, or whatever it is you are tasked with.
Salads are awesome because they are light yet filling, and provide you with macro- and micro-nutrients galore, as well as vitamins aplenty.
The great thing about our Fiesta Lunch Line is that it offers the perfect lunch: a salad with your choice of carbs (rice or tortilla chips) and proteins/fats (beans or meat), as well as vegetable and fruit sides (not to mention guacamole!) and milk.
Want to make your own salad? Pick a grain (rice, quinoa, or perhaps something exotic like bulgur), a protein (beans, tofu, meat), some healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado) in addition to the vegetables of your choice (dark leafy greens are strongly recommended), and voila, you have a delicious feast you can top off with your favorite salad dressing.
Dinner is your chance to get creative. While your breakfast, lunch, and snacks might look similar day to day, if you’re bored with your meals, dinner is the place to get variety. That being said, it’s still important to get a good balance of all macronutrients, and don’t neglect your vegetables.
Some dinner ideas:
- Stir fry (meat, tofu, etc.) with a healthy dose of vegetables and a grain.
- Bean soup with rice and lots of veggies.
- Your favorite sandwich with a side of steamed vegetables with a handful of chips.
- Meat or meat-substitute pasta, and yes, a side of veggies.
What Doesn’t Help Your Training
Notice what didn’t make the cut? While it’s good to eat healthy all the time, it’s also good to treat yourself once in a while. Do you love pizza? Burgers and fries? Queso? Eating comfort foods once in a while will not set you back, and in fact, are a great thing to look forward to, perhaps as a post-race meal, or a weekend family outing. Making good eating choices can be fun, but they can be made even more fun if there’s a rewarding treat thrown in there once in a while.
Thank you for being amazing athletes and humans. We hope you found this guide helpful and illuminating. If you have additional questions, or want a more individualized plan, we’d love to sit down and talk shop with you. Bon appetit!