Do more cardio! No, don’t do any cardio! Which is right? Well, it really depends on what your goals are AND what your passion is. If running is something you love, then you should absolutely utilize running to get your body moving! But could running destroy your body — here are three reasons why that may be the case.
1. You aren’t providing your body with nutrient-rich foods.
With running, especially long distance, you’re burning through quite a bit of calories (aka ENERGY). So why not eat junk — it’s not like you’re going to gain weight, right? The truth is though, what you put in your body will affect your inflammation levels, which can hurt your body if they remain elevated. You may not gain weight from ______ (fill in the blank — maybe fried food, for example), but it can promote inflammation, making it harder for your body to recover and to perform. And thus, increasing your likelihood of injury.
The focus in sports nutrition is often the macronutrients, because they provide the energy needed to run, tackle, swing, etc. But don’t let vitamins and minerals fall to the wayside. These nutrients can help decrease inflammation (which occurs with training) and help your body recover and FEEL amazing. Include a wide variety of vitamins and minerals by eating the rainbow. I challenge you to have at least three colors on your plate at each meal!
2. You aren’t fueling/hydrating during training.
Did you know that with intense training, after 45 minutes you lose 30% of your glycogen stores (how the body stores carbs, aka FUEL)? And after 90 minutes, you’re glycogen is down by 85% of where you started when you had a full tank. That’s why we need to fuel during training when we surpass that 45-60 minute mark i.e. long-run days. If you don’t provide the body with that fuel, your performance will be hurt and your body will be too. Underfueling compromises your body and increases the likelihood of injury!
3. You aren’t recovering properly.
Recovery is key for an active individual to stay healthy and work towards those performance goals. If we don’t recover properly, little by little our performance will be hurt — which means by the time you finish with training season, instead of being in peak shape, your body will be beat up. Not ideal when it’s race time! Your body needs BOTH carbohydrates and protein for recovery. Carbs to refuel those glycogen stores that you just utilized, and protein for muscle recovery. And yes, even with running we have an increase in muscle tissue break down, so we need protein for strength training and cardiovascular training!