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Healthy eating for the urban runner

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The right food and drink choices make
for a happy runner / Photo: J. Booth

Runners get hungry
What goes into a runner's body has a big impact on performance; so while a post-run treat is a great occassional reward (think cookie dough ice cream -- yum), nutrient-rich, energy-enhancing food choices should guide your daily diet.

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Nutrition information and advice for runners is abundant. Two good sources from which to start: Eating to Fuel Exercise, one of a series of articles published in 2009 by The New York Times that covered fitness and well-being in general and running in particular; and Diet and Nutrition for Runners, posted on About.com. Both articles provide straightforward information that answer basic questions such as when to eat, how best to hydrate, and the recommended daily percentages of essential nutrients (e.g., how much and what kind of protein should a runner eat).

A basic understanding of the relationship between food and the active body can guide developing an approach that works best for you. For example, a running article on sports drinks can inform you on their benefits and when and how often to drink them. The drink you choose will ultimately be determined by factors such as your body's response to ingredients like sugar and caffeine -- and what flavors won't turn your stomach during a two-hour run or a humid day.


The market at Journal Square will be available twice weekly
starting in July / Photo: N. Mendez-Booth

Fuel your run with fresh ingredients
Summertime farmers' markets offer the urban runner seasonal produce for preparing nutritious meals. Two handy online sources for Jersey City market schedules and contact information are the State of NJ Department of Agriculture's site and The Jersey City Independent.

Ideas to make the most of your time:
- Make the farmers' market a destination along your running route (e.g., run a laps around Hamilton or Van Vorst Parks before picking your produce)
- Prepare meals that will provide leftovers, saving you time and money throughout the week (e.g., vegetable lasagnas, stews, or salads with pastas or whole grains -- RealSimple.com is a good source of recipes that are, well, real simple, such as a 25-minute recipe for all those yummy sweet potatoes offered by the Jersey farmers)

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