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Runner’s Pasta Recipe

Quick pasta with parsley pesto.

Parsley Pesto Pasta Photo by James Ramsay; Food Stylist: Susan Benson CohenBody Works



Quick Pasta with Parsley Pesto

Serves: 2


1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp grated parmesan

Juice of ½ a lemon

1/8 tsp salt

2 cups cooked pasta, warm or room temperature


1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp white wine vinegar


1. Put all ingredients except pasta in a food processor or blender. Pulse to a coarse mixture, adding a bit more oil if pesto is too thick.

2. Combine cooked pasta with pesto in large serving bowl.

This recipe is taken from The Feed Zone Cookbook, by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim, published in 2011 by VeloPress.


Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories 302

Fat 16 g

Sodium 268 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g

Fibre 6 g

Protein 8 g

Body Works


Periodization of Eating

Just like training, you need to change what you eat in each part of your season.

By Alison Dunn

Timing is everything. When you’re training for a marathon, for example, a weekly long run is very important – but you wouldn’t do your longest run of the year the day before your marathon. Similarly, if you’re starting to train again after a few weeks of rest, you wouldn’t make your very first run an all-out sprint workout. Each workout has a time and place, and it’s important to get them in the right order.

Most runners are familiar with this concept of “periodization,” which involves structuring your training into discrete blocks that progress toward a specific end goal.  The idea is that a runner will achieve his or her top performance at a particular race, instead of peaking a month before (or a month after) the big day. But lately, top coaches, scientists and elite athletes have been taking periodization a step further, to include other ingredients like nutrition and recovery.

Greg Wells, a physiologist who works with elite athletes and teaches at the University of Toronto. “It’s being rewritten to allow people to train at a higher level far more often than they ever have in the past.” Here’s how you can maximize your fitness by adjusting your nutrition and recovery depending on where you are in your training cycle.

Year-round nutritional needs

Generally speaking, there’s no substitute for proper nutrition at any time of the year. For endurance athletes, that generally means aiming for about 60 per cent carbohydrate, 20 per cent protein, and 20 per cent fat as a baseline. But when you’re in different periods of your training plan, you may have different nutritional needs. “Everyone has different goals as to what they might be working on throughout their program,” says Kelly Anne Erdman, an Olympic cyclist and registered dietitian with the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary. “When there’s a change in the program, there’s often a nutritional change.”

During the early base-training phase of your program, you’ll likely be doing lots of longer, slower runs. These runs burn a higher proportion of fat rather than carbohydrate compared to shorter, faster training. As a result, it makes sense to slightly decrease your carbohydrate intake and increase your fat or protein intake.

If you’re training less than 10 hours per week in this phase, Erdman recommends aiming for five to seven grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day (including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – even some kinds of yogurt contain significant amounts of carbohydrates). In addition, aim for at least 1.4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight (good sources include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds) and one gram of healthy fats per kilogram of body weight (olive oil, avocado and coconut oil are all good choices.)

As the speed and intensity of your training increase, so too do your carbohydrate needs. According to Beth Mansfield, a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa, a good rule of thumb is to boost your carbohydrate intake to seven to eight grams per kilogram of body weight as you progress to harder, faster workouts.

Finally, when you’re in the taper period before a race, you need to start loading up on carbohydrates. “The purpose of carbohydrate loading is trying to build extra energy stores, extra glycogen beyond the two-hour reserve you have stored in your body already” says Erdman.

Three days before the race, increase the amount of starchy carbohydrates in your diet by about 50 per cent (consider adding an extra slice of whole-grain bread at lunch, or extra pasta or rice at dinner). She also recommends drinking a litre of sports drink in each of those three days leading up to the race. The night before the race, add a carbohydrate-rich snack before bedtime (perhaps a bagel and a banana). The morning of, try not to vary too much from your routine. You may not be able to eat because of nerves, but if you’ve prepared well in the days leading up to it, you should be fine, Erdman says. Remember, during the race, don’t try anything new you haven’t had in your training.


Fueling strategies for workouts

Don’t forget that you need to consume fuel during any workout longer than 90 minutes, advises Erdman. She recommends consuming 30 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Most energy gels have about 25 to 30 grams, she says, which should be adequate for your needs. Just make sure you make sure you’re hydrated as well, she adds.  “On average, a person loses 1.2 L of sweat per hour,” she says. “There’s no way you would want to drink that much, but try to aim for between 400 to 800 ml per hour.”

Post-workout refueling is another critical moment for nutrition. After any hard workout (intervals, hills, sprints) or one that lasts more than one hour, you need to eat within 30 minutes after your last interval or bit of intensity. “Start your watch [as soon as you finish],” Erdman says. “You’re already into that critical phase one of recovery.”

For a post-workout snack, she recommends starting with a sports drink to help you rehydrate. Then you want a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein in your recovery snack. Erdman suggests mixing a sports drink with whey protein for quick results.

Too much of a good thing?

The ultimate goal of periodization is to make sure your body gets the right stress at the right time from training – and then comes back stronger for the next workout. “Training is not actually good for you; it’s the recovery that’s good for you,” says Scott Wilgress, a strength and physiology consultant with Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic in Halifax.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that the stress of training is the signal that tells your body to adapt and get stronger – so if you’re too good at helping your body recover, it may not feel the need to adapt and get stronger. That can apply to common recovery techniques like ice baths: one Japanese study found that regular ice baths over a four- to- six-week period resulted in smaller fitness gains. As result, some coaches now recommend periodizing your recovery: limit the use of techniques like ice baths, massage and anti-inflammatories during base training, where you’re hoping your body will make big fitness gains. Then begin using them as your approach your goal race, to make sure you feel fresh on the big day.

The same applies to recovery nutrition. A study at the University of Massachusetts found that drinking a sports drink immediately after finishing a treadmill workout prevented the subjects from improving their insulin resistance. The recovery was so good that their bodies had no need to adapt. In the end, the goal is balance. Make sure you take care of your nutritional needs after hard workouts, and leading up to races. But in the middle of a base training block, don’t be afraid to stress your body a bit – after all, that’s the point of the workout.

Alison Dunn is Canadian Running’s online news editor.