We sat down with runner, sports nutrition cook and founder of Go Faster Food, Kate Percy to talk about her motivation for running, why she is on a mission to inspire and help others to fuel their exercise with ‘real food’ and why she recently launched her natural GO BITES® energy balls for before during and after exercise.

What turned you to natural products to fuel your running?

I am so convinced that ‘Real Food Fuels You Better’ that I’ve had had the phrase trademarked! It’s my nutritional philosophy. During my first ever marathon in New York in 2004, I have vivid memories of counting down the minutes lost sitting on multiple portaloos along the course. I had made the rookie mistake of taking on gels which I had not trained with. They did NOT agree with my stomach!

That was a turning point for me. We devote hours of our lives training, striving to be fit, healthy (and sane!) yet many of us spend £££’s on really not very nice tasting, synthetic ‘fuel’ (is that polite enough?). Real food, however, is not only pleasing to the taste buds, it also works with the body’s natural digestive processes to deliver nutrients and energy more efficiently. Basically, the body has developed over many thousands of years and is naturally more accustomed to digesting real food that it is synthetically engineered sports ‘nutrition’ bars and gels. Chewing food also releases enzymes which aid digestion.

And why the GO BITES®?

The energy balls recipes from my Go Faster Food books have always been very popular. It’s what I’ve always made in my workshops in both schools and sports clubs. But it wasn’t until I was doing a book signing at Whole Foods Market in London that I realised that there might be potential to launch them as a product. We were rolling energy balls as part of the event and people were literally queueing out of the door to get their hands on them!

Three bite-sized balls in a grabbable pack, I’ve balanced the ingredients and nutritionally tailored each ball to release energy at different rates for the different need states during exercise – Date & Coconut BOOST for before, Apricot & Seed REFUEL to sustain you during endurance and Hazelnut & Chocolate RECOVER, to replenish energy stores post exercise.

How did you get into running?

Back in 2000 my husband decided to run his first marathon, New York. His training started well, but after a few weeks his energy levels started to wane. He was lethargic and, to be totally honest, not the best company! At the same time I came across a then fairly new concept – the Glycaemic Index (G.I.). The Glycaemic Index is the measurement of the rate at which foods release their energy into your body. I poured my way through a plethora of nutrition manuals and soon realised that Mark was suffering from glycogen depletion. Carbohydrate is stored in our muscles, liver and blood in the form of glycogen, which we use as the most accessible form of energy. Mark was simply not replenishing these stores after his runs and so his runs were becoming gradually harder and harder. I manipulated our diet to focus on slow releasing foods for our everyday diet and fast releasing food immediately after exercise to promote recovery. Mark’s running had an epiphany!

I naturally got itchy feet watching from the side lines and so, after running a 5K Race for Life in July 2004, applied for a place to run New York later that November. I absolutely loved it and have subsequently run many marathons. Over the years, motivated by the incredible hunger that comes with running, I was inspired to write my first recipe book, Go Faster Food, published by Vermilion in 2009, which has since become a bit of a bible for endurance athletes. This was followed in 2013 by a book specifically for active families and the creation of our ‘Eat Like An Athlete’ education programme. Using recipes from the books, the GO BITES® energy balls are a natural progression towards my vision to fuel and inspire healthy, active lifestyles. We’re getting new distribution every day, but so far, you can find them on our website, in Holland & Barrett and in independent health and sports stores. Enjoy!

For more information about how to fuel your training naturally including fee recipes, advice & tips visit www.gofasterfood.com Twitter: @GoFasterFood Facebook: @GoFasterFood Instagram: GoFasterFood.

Look out for this weekends competition where you can win a copy of Kates Go Faster Foods cook book and a 16 pack of each flavour of Go Bites. Entry will be through our Twitter and Facebook competition posts. Competition will run Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th November and we will draw the winner at the end of UKRunChat hour, 9pm Sunday. Good luck!