The physical and mental demands of running can take its toll as the miles add up and training intensifies. In addition to a well calculated and clean diet, I still look to a handful of critical supplements that have been a part of my nutritional strategy for years.
In this weeks blog post I'll pop open the lid on my:
Top 6 Supplements For Runners.
Ok, lets get the disclaimer out of the way right off the top. The opinions and advice given in this article are my own, and you should always consult your doctor before taking supplements to improve your physical performance. There.....I feel better now. Maybe it's because of the Ashwagandha supplement I take but read on and I'll get to that in just a few moments.
This is in no way meant to be an extensive list of supplements, because as you know the list could be super long. This list is my personal "go-to's" and the staples I've kept in my medicine cabinet on a consistent basis. Below I will walk through each one and explain why I use them and the benefits I'm getting, which will hopefully give you the opportunity to look at your own strategy in this regard.
This one likely does not come as a big surprise and is a supplement I take year round. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and is good ammunition to help boost up your immune system which during intense training cycles can be compromised. It has also been shown to support heart health and your cardio vascular system.
Generally I take 1000 mg per day but will crank it up slightly during cold/flu season and during pre-marathon taper periods when sickness tends to crop up.
75% of people are vitamin D deficient, which is scary as it's an important vitamin. It's best known for it's role in maintaining bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium from food and supplements and helps maintain calcium homeostasis. If you suffer from chronic stress fractures, Vitamin D can help to decrease your risk. During the summer months I tend to rely on the sun to get my dose, and start taking a daily supplement in the fall when the days get shorter and I get less exposure to the sun. It's worth noting that too much vitamin D can create a toxic response in the body, so watch your intake whenever taking it.
Magnesium plays a key role in endurance performance, with many people commonly showing a deficiency. It plays a critical role in keeping bones strong, your immune system healthy and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Of particular importance to runners is magnesium’s affect on muscle function. The mineral affects processes such as electrolyte balance, oxygen uptake and energy production, which are all involved in muscle function. Magnesium can also act as a sleep aid (a critical component of effective recovery) and is best taken at night before bed on an empty stomach.
The list of health benefits from Omega 3's is a long one. Strictly looking at it from a training perspective research has proven that taking it daily has shown to have some powerful impacts on your running.
1) Speed your recovery - Omega 3's are proven to reduce inflammation in the body and thus speeding up the rate one can recover from a tough workout and be ready to run again the next day.
2) Support Muscle Strength - Besides decreasing muscle breakdown, omega 3 fatty acids increase protein synthesis—the process in which your muscles transform the protein you eat into your body at an increased level of effectiveness.
3) Goodbye DOM's - "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness" is common after intense runs or strength work. Omega 3's anti inflammatory benefits help to reduce the muscle soreness in the 48 hours after a workout.
This is a relatively new supplement in my arsenal but over the past few months has made its way to my essentials list. There are some highly compelling benefits and proven reasons to consider Resveratrol as part of your runners supplement plan. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by some plants to help protect against environmental stresses. Resveratrol is found in nuts, the skin of red grapes, and although it contains very little of the compound, red wine is also known for containing resveratrol. In a Canadian medical study performed in 2012 Resveratrol supplementation showed an enhanced level of energy and endurance, while also aiding in post workout recovery. It's also know for it's anti-aging benefits as well.
This ancient herb is potentially something new to you, but its been around for years and is a powerhouse when it comes to running and overall wellness, with a 4,000-year history addressing stress, strain and fatigue, while also promoting muscle strength, energy, sexual vitality and cognitive health. Historically, most Ashwagandha use has been toward stress relief, focused on the mental benefits. Recently, it has started to be recognized for the training benefits, with respect to sports and active lifestyles. In particular, Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to increase cardio-respiratory response. Yet another benefit for athletes is ashwagandha’s proven ability to improve muscle strength, lean body mass, and body fat percentage. If you're still scratching your head trying to pronounce it, it's ok, just put this one on your list to consider.
I can't stress enough the power of a clean and healthy diet to truly fuel your training, but with the additional stress that can come with the demands of a running lifestyle, supplements become a key piece of your performance and recovery protocol. Take some time to consider your strategy, and comment below on what supplements you've got on your list!
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