Runner’s Share: Pre-Run Fuel

Runner's Share

Need some suggestions for fueling up before you run?
Check out these awesome ideas from Instagram runners around the world:


PRE-RUN FUEL:

THE CARBS:

+ Oatmeal
+ Cream of rice
+ Cliff Bar
+ English Muffin
+ Toast
+ Cereal
+ Bagel
+ Nuun
+ Waffle
+ Honey
+ Saltine crackers

THE PROTEINS:

+ Peanut Butter
+ Egg Whites
+ Marigold Protein bar
+ Cliff Bar
+ Nuts
+ Hummus

THE FRUITZ:

+ Banana
+ Green Apple
+ Blueberries
+ Apple sauce
+ Raisins

THE OTHER STUFF:

+ Coffee
+ An oatmeal raisin cookie


WHAT ABOUT PRE-RACE MEALS?!

NIGHT BEFORE:

+ Pizza & donuts the night before
+ Heavy spicy stew with rich homemade broth and loaded with veggies
+ Chicken Parmesan
+ Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich + a long island
+ Black bean and beet burger from No Meat Athlete
+ Cheeseburger
+ Steak & potatoes
+ Pizza and wine
+ Pasta or a turkey sandwich
+ PIZZA
+ Carbs & less protein (something easy to digest) and then water

DAY OF:

+ Home-made banana bread
+ A banana with a sprinkle of salt
+ Dried banana chips and Maurten gels during
+ Avocado bagel
+ Peanut butter and bread with half a banana
+ Nothing, oatmeal, or PB toast – depends on my race strategy or distance
+ Cliff bar, banana, 12 oz. salted water, and a 5 hr. energy
+ Bagel & cream cheese
+ Greek yogurt with granola or cereal
+ English muffin with laughing cow cheese
+ Bagel & honey
+ Sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich
+ Sourdough bread slices
+ Black coffee
+ MUST INCLUDE PEANUT BUTTER
+ Oatmeal (preferably chocolate chip)



THANK YOU TO ALL THE AMAZING RUNNERS WHO CONTRIBUTED THEIR IDEAS TO THIS POST:

@minimalinfluence – @sergio_guerra_r – @randyrunzmaine – @cris.tianlg – @kaf_runn – @runningbaldman – @jimmystixruns – @queen_authentic – @lea.zun – @scrubs_n_spandex – @andrewtram – @dontcallita_runback – @elaina_runs – @nomivv – @tbogda0471 – @dp_on_the_go – @ellakbuss – @lindseyandrew – @oli_beringer – @millzgotmiles – @zhanelturarbek – @t_perk13 – @ruben_sgomes – @j5thekosmostones – @dwaynejordan23 – @nartron3k – @siamese.runner – @fafi_stags – @trekettup – @caragiovannaa – @willa_jace01- @run_like_a_mother2 – @lenaclaudia – @dan_runs_downtown – @jordynefriedenfels – @thatsastep1 – @madisonbrookeharmer – @stevekorchinos – @elite.et – @1beer.1mile – @emily_kenyon4 – @mikefire53 – @stavlevyhalabe – @run_emc – @kelli.threet – @casi.lummer – @sprintergonedistance – @amystrahan – @sk1nnylegs – @lizzieroyer – @ambegezda – @_tony_trains – @runthefifty_ – @frumpycob – @hannalyn13 – @will.run.for.smiles – @innerathletemi – @xtyleryoungx – @wilson.50.by.50

Once you’ve explored, make sure to share your own suggestions below!

TO FUEL OR NOT TO FUEL

Fuel

Do you eat before you run?

Okay. I mean. Most say that you should fuel up before a run – ESPECIALLY before a race – but why? We all know that it helps to sustain your energy, keeps you going, helps to ensure sure you don’t crash mid-run… but I’m a morning runner – and I don’t always LIKE – or have TIME – to fuel up before I head out.

But what’s actually best?


Here are a few things to consider when figuring out what is best for YOU:

TIME:

How long do you need to digest your fuel?

And, according to Mayo Clinic – digestion time varies between individuals and between men and women. What does this mean for you? It means that IT DEPENDS. You may need to experiment and explore with different foods, times, and combinations before you find what’s best for you personally. What else does this mean? It means that when someone is telling you exactly what you should do – BE CAUTIOUS. Nobody knows what’s best for you except for…well… you.

Whatcha been eating all week?

Fueling up isn’t only about the pre-run snack or meal – it can also include everything you’ve been eating for days prior – and EVERYONE’S NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT. For me personally, if I eat too big of a meal the night before my race – I’M GOING DOWN. Seriously. I’ve had to move my “pre-run” meal to the entire week before the race. If I eat too late – say, carb-loading the night before the race – personally, my body definitely does not have time to process what I’ve eaten. When this happens, I get sick, have more cramps, and sometimes have a “heavy” feeling that keeps me from running as fast as I can. Finding what works best for you takes time though, and lots of trial-and-error. It’s taken me 6 years to figure out what’s best for me personally, and I’m still learning (and my body is always changing). So make sure you consider the fact that your body is using fuel that it has stored over time – not just from the morning of the run or race.


TYPE:

What type of run are you doing?

Long runs?

Lizzie Kasparek, R.D., sports dietitian for the Sanford Sports Science Institute – suggests “eating two to four hours before a long run.” Long runs require much more energy – which means you may not have adequate fuel in your system to keep you going without a little pre-run snack or meal. However – with this fuel – comes a digestion time. It’s important to consider how much you’ve eaten and how much time you’ll need to digest it before you head out for that longer run!

What about shorter runs?

According to Vishal Patel, chief sports nutritionist at Nuun, if you’re going out for a short run (say 3-4 miles) – you can likely “skip the pre-run meal or snack.” Why is this? Because your body may actually have enough energy stored up in the form of carbs and nutrients to get you through the run. HOWEVER – AGAIN – it is all about your personal preference and needs. If you find that fueling up before a short run best enhances your performance – GO FOR IT. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and you know those needs best.


FOOD:

What are you fueling up with & how much?

It’s also important to fuel up on the RIGHT KIND of foods if you’re going to be eating that pre-run snack or meal. And not just the right kind – but the RIGHT AMOUNT as well. We all know what high-fiber foods do… so maybe lay off the broccoli & beans before you go for your run. But fueling up on some carbs & protein – Kasparek suggests – can be quickly turned into energy to use on those runs. A little oatmeal, some toast and peanut butter, a power bar – just a few options to keep that energy high. But make sure you’re consuming an amount that optimizes your performance. Personally, I eat a power-bar a few hours before a race. It’s light enough that it doesn’t feel like a huge meal – but it gives me enough energy to get me through.


BOTTOM LINE:

It’s all about finding what’s best for you. And it will take a little bit of exploration and experimentation. Everyone has different needs, bodies, and schedules – and therefor, we all have different pre-run preparation. Finding what works best for you is an ever-evolving process, and that’s okay! Just keep exploring and enjoying the process! Share your pre-run fuel plan below!




SOURCES:

Heather Mayer Irvine Freelance Writer Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook. “Unsure What to Eat Before a Run? These Ideas Fuel Every Distance and Sit Well.” Runner’s World, 3 Apr. 2020, www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20853304/what-do-i-eat-before-my-race/.

Laurel Leicht Updated August 14, and Laurel Leicht. “What to Eat Before, During, and After Running.” Health.com, www.health.com/fitness/what-to-eat-before-running.

Luff, Christine. “Why Should You Eat Before a Run?” Verywell Fit, 2 Apr. 2020, http://www.verywellfit.com/should-i-eat-before-a-run-2911547.

FUEL REVIEW: Mediterranean Orzo & Roasted Veggie Salad

Fuel Review

MEDITERRANEAN ORZO & ROASTED VEGGIE SALAD

INSPIRED BY: THIS RECIPE

AMY RATING:

SERVINGS:

+ 5-6 servings

NUTRITION INFO:

+ 420 calories/serving (6 servings)
+ 505 calories/serving (5 servings)

NOTES:

+ From start to finish – this recipe takes about an hour (including baking time of the veggies).
+ I chose to add black beans and corn to the recipe for some extra color and protein
+ You can adjust the seasoning and the ingredients to fit your preferences!

INGREDIENTS:

FOR ORZO & VEGGIES:

+ 1 red bell pepper
+ 1 yellow bell pepper
+ 1 orange bell pepper
+ 1 green bell pepper
+ 1 bunch asparagus
+ 1 can of corn
+ 1 can black beans
+ 1 onion
+ 2 tbsp. olive oil
+ 4 tsp. garlic
+ 2 cups grape tomatoes
+ 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

FOR DRESSING:

+ 2 or 3 lemons (based on preference – I used 3!)
+ 2 tbsp. olive oil
+ 1 tsp. salt
+ 1 tsp. pepper

TOPPINGS:

+ 3 tbsp. parsley
+ 6 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese

STEPS:

STEP 1: VEGGIES

+ Preheat oven to 425

+ Prepare a sheet pan with olive oil (You may need two)

+ Chop up the peppers, asparagus, onion, tomatoes, and garlic
(Dice the peppers, cut asparagus in half or thirds, dice onions, cut tomatoes in half, mince garlic)

+ Toss the veggies with the olive oil on the sheet pan and ensure that all veggies are spread on the pan without overlap

+ Season with salt and pepper and put into the oven

+ Bake veggies in oven for 30-40 minutes (check regularly and continue to flip veggies every 10-15 minutes)

STEP 2: ORZO & DRESSING

+ While veggies are cooking, start boiling water for orzo

+ While waiting for water to boil, prepare the dressing

+ Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil to bowl and whisk

+ Once water is boiling, add orzo to pot (orzo will take approximately 7-8 minutes to cook based on preference)

+ While orzo is cooking, open and rinse black beans and corn – set aside

+ Once pasta is finished, strain and place in bowl with a little olive oil
(enough to coat – this will help to keep the orzo from getting sticky while the veggies finish up)

STEP 3: PUT IT TOGETHER

+ Once veggies are finished, remove and dump into large mixing bowl

+ Add the rinsed black beans, corn, and pasta

+ Add the dressing

+ Toss lightly

+ Chop up parsley (enough to preference) and add to mixture

+ Taste & season to preference with salt and pepper (and lemon juice if you’d like more)

+ Split up into 4-5 containers based on calorie preferences

+ When you’re ready to eat a serving, top with feta cheese!

+ ENJOY!

The BEST & WORST Pre-Race Fuel

Fuel

So, it’s the day before the big day; you know, pre-race day. Usually, for me, that either means I’m…

1.) stuck in a car for four thousand hours driving somewhere
2.) traveling by plane & getting settled into some unfamiliar city
3.) exploring a city that I’ve already arrived at the previous day

Sometimes I’m like super-woman: packing healthy snacks, drinking my 150000 ounces of water, and indulging in foods which are said to predict the perfect performance. Anddddd then sometimes I’m like Amy – drinking 3 glasses of wine, an order of cheese fries, and a pre-bedtime milkshake with a cupcake on the side. So, let’s take a look at the best and the worst foods I’ve fueled my body with before the big day – and whether they truly did or didn’t impact my performance. 


The BEST:

Idaho. Hands down. Hardest I’ve EVER tried to be the perfect athlete. Alright. Picture this (and keep in mind, I didn’t lose my shit through any of it). It’s Friday. I’m at school teaching preschool children who are out of their mind because, well, it’s Friday. I manage to hydrate, ALL DAY LONG, despite the fact that this means I have to call an administrator every 40 minutes to go to the bathroom. I PRE-MAKE pasta the night before to bring to school; because all of the articles say that a pre-race lunch should actually be the one in which you consume your carbs for the race. So. Like I said. I FREAKING PREPARE PASTA and have it at the correct time of day.

Fast-forward a bit, keeping in mind that I am still hydrating all day long. I leave school at 3 PM and get on a plane to Idaho. I avoid ALL of the Starbucks, Cinnabon, airport snack traps; and manage to fill my water bottle again before hopping on my plane. I arrive at my connection airport (where I am meeting my mom) – it is now approximately 6 PM; we have one more flight before arriving in Idaho at approximately 9 PM (I know, sleep wasn’t going to be a priority for this race- so I had to make sure my nutrition was on point). AGAIN, I avoid all of the snacks that the airport offers. I get a QUINOA CHICKEN SALAD at the airport – who does that???? Me. Because I was being a rock-star. I managed to:

  • Eat my carbs at the appropriate 2 PM time slot
  • Hydrate all day long – and have nothing but water after 9 PM. 
  • Quinoa chicken salad with lots of veggies – a light dinner
  • Have NO ALCOHOL

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was absolutely nothing special – performance wise. I finished at 1:36 and ultimately took place as second female. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of things could have impacted this, the route, the altitude, the temperature, the other individuals in the race/the competition, etc. What I’m saying, though, is that it didn’t make me some super-human runner that managed to accomplish something crazy because of what I consumed. For the most part, you should try to still eat something pretty health, just so it doesn’t hinder your race-day performance – but, what I’ve found below, is that it ain’t the end of the world if you go a little outside the recommended diet. 


The WORST:

Let’s be perfectly honest here. There was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to abstain from nutritional defeat in Las Vegas. No freaking way. The race could have been 2 hours after I arrived and it wouldn’t have mattered. But to make matters even worse, the race was at 7 PM THE NEXT DAY. This meant I had a whole day to trot around the city trying all the food and alcohol I could find (or afford). Before race #2 I managed to consume the following around 8 PM. 

  • Nachos – complete with every fixing you can imagine
  • 3 beers and a Moscow Mule
  • DEL TACO – YOU GUYS. DEL FREAKING TACO. I had a Las Vegas fast food dinner. Unreal. 
  • A late night buffalo chicken sandwich with fries
  • 7/8th of a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream 
  • Sunchips. Because. Why not at this point?

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was at 7 PM and somehow I still managed to finish with a time of 1:38 AND place second in my division. Again, so many things go into how one races – the day, the week (for my female readers), your fuel, your training, the time of the race, my travel situation, temperature, altitude, the atmosphere of the race. But I was in Las Vegas – I wasn’t going to sacrifice my enjoyment of the trip for my performance – but ultimately I didn’t have to. My fuel, no matter how shitty, didn’t impact my performance in the negative way that I had assumed it absolutely would. Which leads me to the point of this post… 


BOTTOM LINE:

​Don’t sacrifice your experience for your performance
Performance can only be elevated by your genuine enjoyment of the race. Don’t panic about what you fuel your body with – try your best, and if you can’t, then say fuck it and run your best race anyways. Only you can determine how your race will go- and sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you have Del Taco the night before – you’ll still kick ass anyways. 

RUNNING SUPER FOODS

Fuel

Running Super Foods 

Which foods are the nutritional superheroes when it comes to boosting our energy, preventing sickness, and optimizing our performance? 

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of our MVP’s when it comes to nutrition. Offering a source of Vitamin K & C, Fiber, Folate, and Potassium; broccoli can reduce inflammation, boost our immunity, and improve our digestion (among many more things). Basically, broccoli can prevent you from getting sick before race day, help flush out toxins, and keep your body regulated.  

Oatmeal

Whether you’re a runner, or simply someone with a busy schedule, you know the importance of keeping your energy level up – and oatmeal will do just that! Oatmeal provides a healthy source of carbs to help us power through the day while also improving our blood circulation, reducing inflammation, and even lowering cholesterol. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse when it comes to Vitamins – providing up to 4x the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A we need within just one potato! Sweet potatoes are also high in fiber, Vitamins D, C, B, and antioxidants. While keeping your energy up and your belly full, sweet potatoes can also help with vision (allowing you to keep your eyes on the trail, or road, ahead) and keep your immune system functioning at peak performance!

Cinnamon

Herbs and spices can offer a shocking number of health benefits – and cinnamon is no exception. This superhero spice can help to lower blood sugar,  keep our brains functioning longer, and can even help fight off infections and bacteria. ​While it’s medicinal properties are still being studied, many of the studies that have been conducted show evidence that cinnamon may be more powerful than we ever thought. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that cinnamon comes in different versions. What you need to know is Ceylon cinnamon > Cassia cinnamon. 

Grapefruit

Grapefruit, compared to some of the carb-dense superheroes we’ve already talked about, is extremely low in calories – yet it’s still PACKED with health benefits. Coming in at just over 50 calories per grapefruit – this citrus all-star is high in both Vitamin C and fiber. Grapefruits are a great food source for hydration, they keep our immune system functioning properly, and they can even keep your body’s insulin level at bay. What does that mean? Basically, they can regulate the sugar levels in your body while also fighting off bacteria and infection. Oh, one last thing, they can boost your metabolism! 

Berries

Berries – so many types, and so many superpowers! Berries have long been regarded as a major source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Berries have the powers to reduce inflammation (inflammation that can ultimately lead to some of our major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer).  Outside of being such a defender against disease, berries help our artery efficiency, reduce oxidative stress, and guard against injury. 


Sources: 
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal#section3
https://www.health.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-health-benefits
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section11
https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/benefits-of-grapefruit/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries