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Dossier: Running coaching

The right diet is half the race

Eating properly is crucial if you want to train effectively. Sanitas health coach Sandra Johnson makes sure that the two running coachees Nicole Abgottspon and Christoph Banik eat and drink properly.

Sandra makes it clear from the outset: “Just because you do sport doesn’t mean you have to eat more.” What’s important is to eat balanced meals with sufficient breaks in between. She also advises Nicole and Christoph to avoid fatty and sugary foods and large portions before training.

When should you eat?

Basic advice for the two budding runners: You should eat easily digestible, balanced meals and avoid excessive dietary fibre, which puts too much strain on your digestive tract during training. Sandra recommends eating two to three hours before exercising for optimum performance and fat-burning.

Eating during a training session lasting an hour or less doesn’t make sense and isn’t necessary. And she goes on to explain that “a banana cut into small slices is still the best thing during protracted physical exercise.”

The body has to recover after a training session. The ideal first meal after doing sport is a combination of protein and starch (for example rice) and vegetables.

“Eating during a training session lasting an hour or less doesn’t make sense and isn’t necessary”

Drink enough water

“Drink sufficient water before each training session, but don’t wait until five minutes before you start,” Sandra advises the two candidates. The body can only take up 300 cc of fluid every quarter hour. So it’s important to drink regularly throughout the day. You don’t have to constantly reach for your water bottle while you’re actually training; you should only drink if you feel like it or your mouth’s dry. “Generally water’s more than adequate,” says Johnson. “Special isotonic drinks only make sense if you’re exercising hard for long periods.”

Don’t skimp on the protein

According to the Sanitas running coaching dietary plan, Nicole and Christoph aren’t getting enough protein in their diet. Protein in either vegetable or animal form should be included with every meal, as it keeps you alert and physically fit, strengthens your resistance to infection, and keeps you feeling full for longer. 

“Drink sufficient water before each training session, but don’t wait until five minutes before you start.”