I would like to start off by saying that I am by no means a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician. All of the supplements I talk about below I have personally used and self-educated myself on throughout years of training. The best supplements for runners is a very specific topic. For a lot of newbies, entering a nutrition store without proper research can lead to wasting a lot of money. You could spend huge amounts on supplements, protein powders and vitamins for runners but at the end of the day, you really don’t need them all. Every person is going to benefit differently, so feel free to take the information for what it’s worth and hopefully you can find some benefit from it!
Consistent running can cause you to burn calories faster than you are able to take them in. The problem that this creates is when the body needs energy, it’s not always discriminating about where it gets it — breaking down muscle tissue rather than focusing on fat reserves. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) help offset this muscle loss while encouraging protein synthesis throughout the body. BCAAs have been shown to be effective endurance supplement options, fighting off fatigue in athletes. Furthermore, BCAAs also reduce muscle soreness and speed up muscle recovery.
Another way to offset muscle loss through supplementation is by incorporating whey protein into your diet. Whey protein is absorbed directly into strained muscle tissues, by-passing the digestive process, and put to work repairing and strengthening. Drinking whey protein causes an increase in blood amino acids including BCAAs and promotes muscle recovery and the building of lean muscle mass. Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, so make sure to consume enough daily to help grow and repair your muscles.
Running has a way of depleting glutamine levels in muscles and in the bloodstream. As glutamine acts as fuel for immune cells, when those levels get too low, the immune system can’t function optimally. As you push through your training you need to supplement glutamine in order to boost immune function and help prevent illness to keep you happy and healthy.
Running puts a lot of stress on your skeletal structure. Repeated impacts to feet and joints can even lead to stress fractures and other injuries. But the same way muscles need protein to repair and maintain themselves, your bones rely on calcium. Calcium supplements can help ensure that your healthy bones are strong enough to withstand the difficulties of running.
Specifically my favorite and yours, Nuun! Nuun began as the first company to separate electrolyte replacement from carbohydrates. The result? A healthy, hydrating beverage without all of the extra sugar and additives. Fortunately for you and me, The DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon has partnered with Nuun and we will find them at our hydration stations on race day!
Remember, any supplementation should be done with athletes who have already maximized training load, recovery and nutritional practices. Supplements should be used to push you over the hump in training and you should not solely rely on them for nutritional value. Continue to work on your water consumption, nutritional intake through whole foods, training plans, and then add in the supplements to correct your deficiencies.