Recently, I’ve been getting into my longer runs and I’m starting to learn how to “fuel” as they call it. Apparently, you need to eat whilst running to avoid getting too burned out to finish the race. When I first read this, I was confused, so I have a short break down of what’s worked for me so far and what hasn’t.
Eating before your runs: It’s a good idea to give yourself a boost before you leave for your run (I’ve read somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour) to consume some calories if you haven’t eaten recently. Basically, I will eat anything that normally sits well with my stomach, as long as it’s not a super unhealthy snack like Blue Bell ice cream.
- Small bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios with milk
- HEB Fruit Bars (somewhat sugary, but sit really well and don’t weigh me down)
- Granola bar
- Small smoothie
Eating during a run: After researching different options, the different gel options seemed a little cumbersome and disgusting, so I decided to try the different chew options available to me. Since my best friend introduced Clif Bars to me in the 9th grade, I have been a big fan of the brand and decided to try Clif Shot Bloks first. I had an open package lying around, so I obliged and took a photo.
So far, they’ve worked pretty well, though my stomach has been a little upset afterward a time or two. I also tried Sport Beans, which I really like! They are basically salty jelly beans. Sounds weird, but it feels like a little reward after every couple of miles. I’ve tried bringing Gatorade in my fuel belt as well, but it seems to overwhelm my system and I feel sluggish. I’ve been sticking to water the last few long runs I’ve had and that seems to work. Really, this isn’t too complicated, so my best advice is just go with your gut (no pun intended) on what you think will work, and make sure you test this stuff out before race day.
Eating after a run: It’s apparently important to eat something afterward to aid in the recovery process. I am usually hungry anyway, so I usually eat a meal. I either plan for brunch with protein and carbs or burgers for dinner. Everyone raves about chocolate milk, but I haven’t found this to be as important as people make it out to me. It naturally occurs to me that I’m starving (because, duh, I just ran 6+ miles and burned a meal’s worth of calories), so I eat something like this:
Those are White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chiles, in case you’re wondering.
My main point is it’s important to give yourself some fuel pre-run and refill your metaphorical tank while you’re running. Don’t do it like I did and read Runner’s World trying to overanalyze this. That can be kind of like WebMD. Just do what works for you, try different things. Sometimes, things won’t sit well, but it’s not going to ruin your run; you’ll be okay.
That said, what fuel works for you? Tell me in the comments. After my race, I’m probably going to be looking at different options. We’ll see.