Happy Friday and welcome back to the Friday Five 2.0 with your hosts Fairytales and Fitness and yours truly. This week the topic is “food.” Since this is a running blog, I’m in the throes of training for various races, and food just happens to be one of my favorite things to do, I thought I’d share some fueling strategies for long run days. You know, the 13+ milers that leave you famished.
Nutrition, hydration, and running can be a difficult dance to learn. There’s the pre-workout fueling, the “fueling on the run,” post-run replenishment, and then the rest of the day. But, like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Fueling strategies don’t need to be complicated. Just follow some basic guidelines and you’ll be good to go. Today I’m sharing five fueling strategies that work for me — and hopefully they’ll work for you, too. Using these five fueling strategies will keep your body happy, well-nourished, and in prime shape for training and racing.
5 Fueling Strategies for Distance Runners
1. Pre-run nutrition
Before a long run, I choose to fuel with things that are easily digestible. My pre-long run ritual includes a small cup of coffee, a glass of water, and either oatmeal or a piece of toast with butter and jelly. I have friends who swear by bananas and toast with peanut butter, but those things don’t work for me. Every runner is different so if you’re a newer runner training for a distance race, try everything before race day. You’ll find what works best for you.
2. On-the-run fuel
Here’s where things get interesting. Tastes on the run are as varied as runners’ personalities. Some prefer using gels and sports drinks. Some like chews and water. Others yet prefer real food — pretzels, pb&j, goldfish, and candy. The trick here is to learn what your body likes and where it will grab energy from. For me, I prefer a mix of chews, water or electrolytes, and real food. Most days you’ll find me running with a pack of Honey Stinger chews, a bag of pretzels, and some SOS. Too much sugar does not sit well with me so I avoid gels as much as possible.
3. Post-run nutrition
After a run of any distance, I follow it up with a rehydrating beverage. Some days it’s as simple as chocolate milk. Other days, often after a particularly taxing run, I opt for a post-run smoothie with lots of fruit, Greek yogurt, and protein powder.
Looking for a smoothie recipe? Look here!
4. The first meal after a hard run
The first “meal” back after a hard run is an opportunity to refuel the nutrients your body depleted on the run. This is also when intuitive eating comes in handy. I say “meal” because sometimes after hard work, it’s tough for our tummies to settle and actually feel the pangs of hunger. More often than not, though, something will usually sound really good — and others will not. For example, I’ve been known to eat a massive salad after a particularly taxing run. This tells me I’m dehydrated and my body is looking for an edible water source, and possibly an easy source of vital nutrients and vitamins (depending on the contents of the salad, of course). I’ve also gone for salty foods like eggs, cheese, and yes, even bacon. On the days I choose those foods, it’s a signal that I need to replenish my salt stores as well as restock fats.
If you’re just not hungry after a run, the first “meal” should really be anything that sounds good to start the replenishment process. You can worry about the actual nutrients at the next meal.
Please note: this is anecdotal only, not scientific-based.
5. The balanced meal
After a hard run, I go the smoothie route, the replenishment direction based on what sounds good, and finally, I choose a healthy, balanced meal. Recovery between hard efforts lasts anywhere from 24-48 hours so the time you spend refueling and what you refuel with is pretty important for your next hard effort workout. For the balanced meal, it’s good to choose lean proteins, whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water. This is your opportunity to dial in the nutrition and make sure you hit all the important vitamins and minerals your muscles are thirsty to absorb.
Aside from hard effort workouts and long runs, it’s important to fuel well throughout your training cycle. Yes, it’s okay to eat pizza. No, it’s not okay to eat pizza every day. Just like anything else, moderation is key. Clean fuel produces the best results so choose your foods wisely.
Have a super weekend, friends. If you’re racing this weekend, good luck! And if you’re training, try these fueling strategies and hopefully they’ll help.
TALK TO ME!
What’s one strategy you use to fuel during training?
Poll: real food or gels and chews?