Load up on in-season items at your local farmers market (or grocery store) and reap the benefits.
While I usually savour a weekend sleep-in, I’ve recently started to set my alarm even earlier than usual on Saturday mornings. I like to finish my run just after the sun rises so I can dash inside, clean up, corral the family and head to the local farmers market well before the rest of the city makes an appearance.
Few things (at least for a nutrition expert and runner) can rival the excitement and indulgences at the weekend farmers market. The place is abuzz with the anticipation of trying new foods, seeking out the comfort of an old favourite and supporting local artisans.
The next time you visit the farmers market, try these spring favourites for your health and performance.
Trendy runners know that maple syrup is in this season. It might be your new favourite energy gel for those long runs (yes!) or your buckwheat pancake topping. Sought after as a natural source of quick fuel, maple syrup offers runners energy from a blend of (primarily) sucrose, glucose and fructose, along with a few traces of various vitamins and minerals.
In general, the darker the colour, the stronger the maple flavour but whichever grade you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy this grassroots fuel option whether you’re running long or short this spring.
All pea varieties – sugar snap, snow, green – will add colour and nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A to your diet. Grab a kilo of them the next time you’re at the market, blanch and serve these fibre- and nutrient-rich gems with dip on a crudités platter instead of no-nutrient club crackers.
These beet-uties are brimming with antioxidants, flavour and endurance-enhancing dietary inorganic nitrate. In other words, whether steamed, boiled, roasted or pickled, beets have been shown to improve muscle efficiency and increase endurance exercise tolerance, most specifically in untrained and moderately trained athletes.
Many athletes report that when they include beets or a supplement containing an effective dose (look for an actual amount of beets on the label and not just a dusting of beet for colour or flavour) their performance improves and they breathe a bit easier.
What’s not to love about polyphenol-rich berries and cherries that are starting to appear at your farmers market? These nutritional powerhouses can be consumed before and after long runs to help you fend off oxidative damage and promote recovery. Add berries to as many dishes as possible – oatmeal topping, smoothies, goat cheese and spring mix salads.