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Before you lace up those running shoes and hit the road, it is critical to ensure that your body is properly fueled. Expert runners understand the importance of following a sound nutrition regiment designed to adequately power the body through a run of any distance and speed. Here are four essential nutrition guidelines to follow to ensure that your body is adequately prepared to handle the physical rigours of running:

CARBO LOAD: Running takes energy. The best way to supply your body with the power it needs to get through a run is to make sure carbs fuel it. As the number source of body fuel, carbs are an essential component of any runner’s diet. Because they take longer to digest, complex carbs such as whole grains and beans should be consumed a few hours before a run while simple carbs such as bananas are best consumed approximately one hour before the gun goes off.

EXPERIMENT: Every body is different in how it processes and utilizes food for exercise. The best runners have taken the time to experiment with different nutritional regiments to find what works best for them. By experimenting with different macro and micro combinations and knowing when you will most likely need to go to the bathroom, you will prepare yourself for maximum running success. One important tip to remember is to not try anything new on the day of a race since you will not know how your body will react to it.

HYDRATE: It seems like an obvious tip, but many runners ignore the importance of proper hydration. Insufficient hydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and poor performance. Do not let something so easy sideline your running goals. An excellent way to ensure that you are adequately hydrated is to check your urine to make sure it is pale yellow to clear.

AVOID SPORTS DRINKS: Despite the aggressive marketing telling you otherwise, most runners do not need the electrolytes supplied by the many popular sports drinks on the market. Although these drinks can be a vital source of fluid and sugar replacement on runs lasting longer than one hour, plain water is an exceptional source of hydration for shorter bursts of activity.