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How to Fuel Like a Pro Runner

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How to Fuel Like a Pro Runner


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For elite runners, proper nutrition is one of the key ingredients to success. But among the rigorous workouts and races, maintaining a balanced diet that’s optimized for performance and recovery can be a challenge on its own. That’s why the pros turn to trusted brands like NOW Sports to round out their training with essential nutrients. As the official sports nutrition partner of the Brooks Beasts Track Club, NOW fuels winners and record-setters—but its products are also useful for everyday runners. To learn more about how the Brooks Beasts are fueling for the win with NOW, we talked to Kyle Pfaffenbach, PhD, the team’s nutritionist and associate professor of health and human performance at Eastern Oregon University, and seasoned team member and world record holder Brannon Kidder. Here’s what they had to say.

Nutrition for Runners

Outside: Who are the Brooks Beasts, and why is their nutrition so important?

Kyle Pfaffenbach, PhD: The Brooks Beasts are a professional track team consisting of some of the world’s best middle-distance runners. Nutrition is one of the four foundational pillars of training, with workouts, sleep, and mental health being the others. Proper nutrition, first and foremost, promotes overall health and wellness. From a performance perspective, sound nutritional practices allow the Beasts to train effectively, recover properly, and race competitively.

Brooks Beasts
Brooks Beasts are a professional track team consisting of some of the world’s best middle-distance runners. (Photo: Tim Healy/RunnerSpace)

What are some of the most beneficial supplements for runners?

Pfaffenbach: The most important point to remember is that supplements are just that—supplemental to a healthy diet. If a runner’s overall diet is not sorted, supplements rarely make up for that. Once a healthy diet is in place, one of the most important supplements is whey protein. Whey is a highly absorbable form of protein that kick-starts the recovery process when taken after each run. Next would be collagen peptides. Collagen peptides taken before runs may support ligament synthesis, which could help maintain healthy soft tissues.* There is also a variety of effective supplements that may offer benefits to runners, including beet root powder, creatine, beta-alanine, and tart cherry.

 

Why do Brooks Beasts choose to use NOW Sports Nutrition products over other brands?

Pfaffenbach: We trust NOW Sports. NOW is transparent with its testing and quality control. The supplements are manufactured in-house under very strict conditions. Many of the products in the Sports Nutrition line are third-party tested and certified through Informed Sport. Finally, we like that NOW offers uncomplicated, straightforward supplements in effective doses. They avoid overly complicated products with complicated blends that often have ineffectively small doses of the desired ingredients.

Fueling for Wins

Brannon, what does your daily regimen and post-workout for nutrition look like?

Brannon Kidder: For my daily nutrition goals, I typically focus on my macronutrient needs. I don’t count these values every day, but I have tracked them in the past to get an idea of what an ideal day would look like. Every day, I shoot for the same fat and protein goals and then vary the carbs to suit my needs. I always make sure that I am getting enough fats and protein first for my recovery. Then, I will make sure to fuel appropriately with carbs for my hard and long efforts. I eat carbohydrates every day, but the needs change for a five-mile recovery day versus a 15-mile run.

 

Even though the food changes from day to day to suit my training needs, I always focus on hydration and recovery.* I add an Effer-Hydrate tablet to my water before and during my workouts to help replenish what I’m losing through sweat. Then, I drink a shake using Whey Protein Concentrate with some carbs added following training.

As far as daily supplements, I’ll also take Beta-Alanine pre-workout to delay muscle fatigue and speed up recovery time.* And as part of my recovery plan, I use HMB Powder to help maintain muscle strength and mass.*

I have been a member of the Beasts for more than seven years, and I try to dial in nutrition a little more each year. When I’m eating well and using supportive supplements, it can really help optimize my performance.*

What have been some of your biggest accomplishments this season? 

Kidder: We started off the outdoor season with a world record in the distance medley relay! It is a somewhat rare opportunity to run a relay as a professional. When the chance to run a DMR was presented to me and my teammates—Brandon Miller, Isaiah Harris, and Henry Wynne—we jumped at the opportunity. We were excited for the chance to race as a team again. There is something special about racing with and for your team rather than an individual event.

Going into the event, we were excited about assembling such a good team and thought we might be able to take a pretty good shot at a world record. On paper, we had the ability to do it, but most of the time your relay result isn’t as simple as adding up everyone’s on-paper personal bests. I think we were able to get the record because we were all running for each other. We knew it would take all four of us having a good day to get the record, and we got the job done. I ran better than I would have knowing my three teammates were relying on me. The season is just getting started, but that has definitely been my biggest accomplishment so far.

What advice can you give runners working toward personal goals in the sport?

Kidder: Whenever I’m asked this question, my answer is always “be consistent.” Running is a sport that really gives you back what you put into it, but sometimes those gains are measured in months and years rather than days and weeks. It’s hard to tell in the moment, but having many solid days stacked on top of each other is the best way to improve. A bunch of good workouts and runs will always beat some great workouts surrounded by inconsistency.


NOW® Sports products have been recognized among the best in the industry, backed by world-class research and development standards and quality-sourced ingredients, to support a range of sports nutritional needs for professional to everyday athletes.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.