There's nothing more frustrating than diligently training for a race and not seeing any improvements in time or endurance, or even finding yourself getting slower as your training plan progresses.
The truth is, a number of factors go into how strong your runs are. The actual training part of it probably doesn't have as much to do with it as you think. Other key factors include not skimping on sleep, regular active recovery, and how you nourish yourself.
Here are eight foods to eat for stronger, faster runs.
1. A handful of almonds.
When it comes to gaining energy, it doesn't get much better than a handful of raw, unsalted almonds. Almonds are packed with protein and healthy fats that keep blood sugar levels balanced. They also contain fiber, helping to keep you full.
2. Chia pudding with nut milk.
While hydrating post-run is crucial, it's also important to refuel with the right foods. "Properly fueling your body with the dynamic duo of clean protein and good-quality carbohydrates is ideal as they help to repair and refuel muscles," registered dietician Miranda Hammer tells mbg. "Go for chia seed pudding with nut milk."
3. Quinoa.If you're looking for a rice substitute while you train, try this ancient grain that hails from Peru. Packed with protein, fiber, iron, B6 and more, quinoa will keep you satiated and energized all day long.
4. A low-sugar smoothie.
Before a long run, go for a low sugar snack that's easy to digest. Award-winning chef and cyclist Seamus Mullen suggests a smoothie with added protein, soaked almonds, frozen wild berries, greens, and avocado. Just make sure the smoothie is on the smaller side—you don't want to be too full of liquid on your run.
5. Dark chocolate.
As long as it's not packed with sugar, dark chocolate that's 70% cacao or more is a great source of iron, magnesium, and antioxidants and provides an energy boost, and is a great way to satisfy sugar cravings that can hinder your performance.
6. An apple.
Yes, an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Especially if you're a runner. Apples are naturally rich in antihistamines and fight inflammation—a useful quality when you're a sore runner.
7. Anything with ginger.
Ginger relieves swelling and pain naturally, so if your quads and calves aren't loving all those miles you've been running lately, make ginger tea, put some in your smoothie, or add it to soup.
8. Broccoli and cauliflower
If you haven't hopped on the cauliflower rice and pizza crust trend yet, it's time to start. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are excellent for joint health, and may even prevent arthritis. So cook some up for dinner tonight—your knees and ankels will thank you.