Run fast by fueling-up smart

As "SportsCenter" anchor Sage Steele prepares for the Feb. 26 Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World, she's struggling with proper sports nutrition. If she runs in the morning, should she drink first? Should she stuff her face with carbs post-run? And what are the best performance-boosting options? To find out, espnW caught up with Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of "The Six Pillars of Nutrition" and science advisor for LIVESTRONG.com

Refueling rules of the pros

1. If you train at the crack of dawn, put something in your system first.
A good strategy is to opt for a drink with a mix of protein and carbohydrates. Roussell likes Gatorade G3, which has about 120 calories per bottle, 14 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein. It's great for recovery post-run, too. Another good option for longer runs is to add one scoop of Xtend to a 20-ounce regular Gatorade (G2). Both of these brews get into your system quickly so you don't have to wait 60- to 90-minutes like you would if you ate something heavier.

2. Don't go carb-crazy.
"People tend to overdo it with carbohydrates when running," said Roussell, whose clients include Roy Hibbert, center for the Indiana Pacers. "Your body only burns about 60 grams an hour [about one gram per minute] and you actually have that stored in your system."

3. Eat pronto, post-run.
"Your body is primed to recover directly after exercise," Roussell said. "The ability to recover decreases over time, so getting in fuel right away is really key for replenishing your energy stores and improving muscle recovery."

4. Sip as you go.
If you're going to be running for more than 60 minutes, bring along a sports drink that includes protein. This will help you maintain your blood sugar levels and keep your muscle glycogen -- sugar stores -- topped off, Roussell said. The protein is key because it helps increase blood flow to working muscles.

Four meals that maximize performance

Add these meals from "Dr. Mike" to your running recipe book

Breakfast sandwich
Eat it: 60 to 90 minutes before a run

• 2 slices Canadian bacon
• 1 whole omega-3 egg
• 1 whole-wheat sandwich thin
• 1 slice reduced-fat cheddar cheese
• 1 slice tomato
• 1 slice onion
• 1 cup grapes

Preparation instructions: Place a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and coat with fat-free cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, crack and add one egg and cook over easy (or cook until the yolk is hard, if preferred). Add Canadian bacon to the frying pan and heat. While the egg is cooking, toast the whole-wheat sandwich thin. When the sandwich thin is toasted, construct your breakfast sandwich by layering egg, Canadian bacon, cheese, tomato and onion. Enjoy the grapes on the side. Serves one.

Granola with Greek yogurt and blueberries
Eat it: 60 to 90 minutes before a run

• 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
• 1 TBSP flax meal
• 3 TBSP almonds, sliced
• 1/4 cup Bear Naked brand Vanilla Almond Crunch Granola

Preparation instructions: Mix ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy. Serves one.

Workout recovery shake
Drink it: immediately following a run

• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
• 3/4 cup mixed berries
• 1 1/2 TBSP honey
• 1 tsp creatine, optional
• 2 cups water
• 3 ice cubes

Preparation instructions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. For a thicker shake add less water or more ice cubes. For protein powder, Roussell says the best -- and most tasty -- option is Low Carb Metabolic Drive. Serves one.

Green chicken chili
Eat it: For dinner after an afternoon run

• 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
• 1 medium onion
• 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 1 can low-sodium chickpeas, drained
• 3 green peppers (poblano if you prefer spice)
• 1 17.6-ounce jar Goya salsa verde
• 4-ounce can diced chilies
• 2 TBSP canola oil

Preparation instructions: Place a sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil, diced onions, diced green or poblano peppers and minced garlic. Sauté vegetables until the onions start to become translucent. While the onions are cooking, chop up the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to sauce pan. Stir and cook until the outsides of the chicken are cooked and you don't see any more pink. The chicken will finish cooking by the time the chili is complete. Add salsa, canned chilies, chickpeas and water/broth. Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly and bring to a boil for two minutes. Simmer for 25-35 minutes. Serves five.

Comment below to share your favorite pre- and post-run meals and fueling strategies. To cheer Sage on via Twitter, check out @espnW: #runSAGE

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