Avid runners need more carbohydrates to keep their bodies in running shape, but that doesn’t mean they should load up with high-glycemic foods, says Peter Horvath, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science at the University at Buffalo.

Those looking to gear up for the heat of the competitive running season – which shifts into high gear in Western New York on June 6 with the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge at Delaware Park – should consider the tips below for a nutritionally sound running season, particularly in the week before a race. (Those looking for a five-week training regimen out front of the Corporate Challenge can turn to Page 10.)

Horvath recommends runners:

• Drink right – Drink more water as you train, particularly the day before a race. An hour or two beforehand, drink a half-liter of real fruit juice and water, diluted at a 30-70 or 50-50 ratio. You’ll get a few extra carbs to burn off during your run without all the sugar and sodium in Gatorade and similar sports drinks.

• Train with optimal energy stores – Don’t run hungry or full. A diet with about 55 percent carbs helps regular runners maintain weight and keep their energy.

• Avoid bad carbs – That includes high-glycemic fruit juices, sports drinks, cereal, white rice, white breads and jams. You only need these foods two to three hours before you train and 90 minutes after.

• Eat good carbs – This includes whole grains, barley and beans. Their consumption is particularly important the night before a race or big training day.

“It’s good to eat a balanced, carbo-based diet the week of a race, mostly on the day before,” Horvath said. A carb-heavy diet is only good for races that last 90 minutes or more, Horvath says.

Is it OK to have a beer and banana after such a race? And hot dog?

“You can’t be that uptight about what you eat,” Horvath says. “You’ve got to enjoy life, too. Of course, if you were having a beer and a hot dog and a banana and that’s all you ate every day, then that’s another issue.

“For one day, it’s part of the whole atmosphere, and if people enjoy doing this kind of race, then they’re going to run more, and that’s what we want.”

– Scott Scanlon