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.

REAL TALK: Hormones & Running

Real Talk

Let’s be REAL honest here – hormones can be a real BI*#% when it comes to running. Picture this: It’s the week before your big race (that you’ve been training for every single day for the last 5+ months). You’re feeling good, feeling prepared, getting excited… and then that first cramp hits. The next few days include (but are not limited to) the lovely familiar gifts from mother nature: bloating, cramping, cravings, fatigue… all of which come and go up until the VERY DAY of your race…

I know. Trust me…I’ve been there. While men and women both experience, and are impacted by, their hormones – women tend to have much more unstable hormone levels. Us women have to constantly battle the shifting levels of hormones in our body, and the handfuls of symptoms that come with these shifts. And this can be a REAL pain in the ass when you’re trying to get your body to do something specific – say – like run a freaking marathon.

One thing that I’ve realized throughout my years of running – is that hormones impact my running to a LARGE degree – and I have to get comfortable with that and be kind to myself when it happens. The fact of the matter is:

I simply run better on certain weeks of the month than others.

Some weeks I’m bloated, retaining water weight (making me heavier and thus making it harder to run), I have cravings for salty and sugary food (again, if I indulge, it leads to retaining water and making it harder to run), I am moody, tired, and simply less motivated. And these are just a FEW of the symptoms that us ladies have to deal with during THAT time of the month.

While we can’t change mother nature, or stop it from happening, there are definitely a few things that I’ve found helpful when dealing with the impact of hormones on my running. Here they are:


1.) PLAN AHEAD:

This might sound a little intense – but I literally plan ahead for these times of the month. I plan my races accordingly. While I don’t always know the exact days that I’ll be more impacted or less impacted by my hormones – I can predict, based on the patterns over the months, which weeks might be safer than others. And that’s exactly what I do. I try to plan races on weeks when I know that I’ll be feeling my best – and that helps me to perform my best!


2.) SHIFT MY PERSPECTIVE:

While it can be difficult to “stay positive” when I’m having these challenges on race day – it’s been really helpful to shift my perspective and my attitude towards the shifting levels of hormones – and the changes that they bring to my running. The first thing to do is simply TAKE NOTE of how your hormones actually impact you personally with running – do you feel more tired during that time of the month? Have more fatigue? Simply feel slower because you’re bloated or carrying water weight? Lose some motivation or drive to keep up with your running? Just IDENTIFYING these changes and feelings is a HUGE step towards showing yourself some kindness when they arise. Instead of thinking “I am going so freaking slow what is wrong with me?!!?!?!?!” I can remember, “I am going slower today, and that’s okay. I know my hormones are a little out of whack, and I can choose to go slower and enjoy the run anyways. I will get back at it next week.


3.) HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE:

While you may feel bloated – it’s even MORE important that you stay hydrated during this time. Staying hydrated when you’re feeling bloated will actually HELP to flush out some of the toxins and waste from your body – thus helping out the situation! Plus, if you’re anything like me, some of those healthy habits (like staying hydrated) tend to fall off during this time of the month – so I have to truly be intentional about staying hydrate! I set timers on my phone and make sure to keep up with my water intake!


4.) TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT YOUR DIET:

While you can’t stop the cravings from happening – you can control the likelihood that you cave into them! You can do this by making sure that your meals, especially during this time of the month, include lots of healthy carbs and proteins. These will help to keep you full and reduce the chance that you’ll give into that whole pack of Oreos or tub of ice cream – especially if you’re also staying hydrated!


Alright ladies… those are MY tricks for overcoming the havoc that hormones try to cause during my running journey. Now it’s your turn! How have hormones impacted YOUR running journey?! And what are your tips, tricks, and strategies for running during that time of the month?

I DON’T F*%$@ FEEL LIKE RUNNING!

Running

You know the feeling… 

You’re getting ready for what’s supposed to be one of your favorite parts of your day…your runBut something just isn’t right. You just don’t feel like running. You lace up your shoes, hoping to get some momentum going. As you walk out the door, you’re feeling sluggish, slow, heavy — oh, and your feet weigh approximately twenty two thousand pounds. Simply put: you just don’t feel like a runner today.

If you’re anything like me, you have these days – and these runs – ALL. THE. TIME. Sometimes it’s not just one day either – sometimes it’s a week – or two weeks – or even an entire training season. You’re running on empty and you just can’t seem to find the energy, the motivation, or the ease that once flowed. Your feet are dragging, your breathing is heavy, your mind is occupied with this thing and that.

You’re running on empty

So what do YOU do when you don’t feel like running?

Do you muscle through it and push yourself?
Do you give up and go home to rest and reset?
How do you get the momentum back? 

Life isn’t always going to be a walk in the park. You and I – our surroundings, our life circumstances & situations, our relationships, our bodies – are constantly evolving – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially. We can’t, we shouldn’t, ever expect life to stay the same forever – and we shouldn’t expect our running to either. Challenging days, and even entire periods of our lives, require different amounts of ourselves. And that’s OKAY. Giving yourself the grace and the flexibility to pause and figure out the source of your fatigue, as well as what you’re needing during this moment in time,  is what I’ve found to be the most important step for getting your mojo back. 

Whether it’s an isolated argument with a loved one, a financial hardship that’s been mentally draining you for weeks, or simply that dreaded time of the month for all you women out there – we must remember that it’s okay to not be okay. Life’s challenges have a way of seeping into other areas of our lives – including our running – leaving us feeling drained before we’ve even laced up our shoes. But once you can put a label to what you’re feeling – and accept the reason behind your feeling – you can start to take back the power and the control.

You can recognize that the argument you had with your husband is making you feel frustrated, and then you can give yourself the space to figure out what you’re needing from your run that day – do you need a slower pace? A shorter distance? Or do you need to cancel your run all together to think about or journal your feelings today instead? 

What’s the alternative? Mindlessly heading out on that run. Feeling like shit. Ruminating and becoming frustrated with yourself. Maybe even letting those feelings turn into some false beliefs like whether you’re just simply not cut out for running – trust me, I’ve been there before & it’s not a fun place to be. But when you don’t give yourself the space to actually figure out why you’re feeling so drained or uninspired, you start to assign blame where it doesn’t belong.

It’s easy to blame a “bad run” on something physical – your endurance, your energy, your muscle recovery, even something you ate the night before. It’s even EASIER to blame it on circumstances you can’t control – the weather, the time of day, your headphones being dead. But blaming your lack of flow on these circumstances won’t help you get better – it won’t help you get back in your groove. Sometimes we forget how important of a role our emotions, our thoughts, our beliefs, and our needs play in our ability to run – & sometimes that’s exactly where the solution lies. 

So, again, what do you do

Pause. Take inventory of your life – ALL areas of your life. Think through your work, your family, your financial situation, your body, your energy, how much sleep you got the night before, what you ate this morning, the weather, everything and anything. You could start by trying to think through the areas of health to see if anything comes to the surface of your mind: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. You could also use more of a time-line type of thinking: what happened 5 minutes ago, earlier today, last night, yesterday, last week, this month? Once you’ve developed a sense of the source of your lack of gusto – think through what you’re NEEDING from your run today (or if you’re even needing one at all, man). There ain’t no shame in the walking game on those days when you just don’t feel like running.

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. 

How Important is Hydration?

Fuel

How important is it to get that agua in each day? Why do I need to drink it? & what happens if I don’t?

Getting enough water each day can be a HUGE challenge, especially since we’ve become so accustomed to such a fast-paced lifestyle with demands and distractions in every direction. But, and I am speaking some real truth here, YOU CANNOT PUT OFF YOUR HYDRATION. Getting enough water in is VITAL to your performance in any physical feat and your overall health and wellbeing. Read below to figure out why…


WHEN YOU’RE ON TOP OF YOUR HYDRATION GAME: 

We’ll start with the PRO’s of getting enough water – because – well, it’s always good to start with the good. Getting enough water is like the secret weapon of productivity. When you are fully hydrated your body is more effective, more resilient, more attentive, and overall just performs STRONGER, QUICKER, & BETTER.

Here are a few areas where you will see the impact of getting those glasses in: 

  • YOUR SKIN AND HAIR: When you are properly hydrated, your body can flush out more shit. Enough said.
  • YOUR WEIGHT: When you drink water, you fill your body up. It’s like a magic trick. If you fill your body with water, you can cut down on some false hunger cues, curb overeating, and boost your metabolism. Yes. You read that last part right. When your body isn’t hydrated, YOUR METABOLISM ISN’T AS EFFECTIVE. SEE FOR YOURSELF HERE MAN. Also, like, water will help you flush some stuff out…. if you catch my drift. Goodbyeeee constipation. Hellooooo water. 
  • YOUR ENERGY:  Your body needs water to be able to function properly. Obviously. But even MILD dehydration can cause fogginess, lack of energy, and feelings of fatigue. On the flip side; staying properly hydrated can give you a boost (especially when you know you’re making a healthy choice) which can rev up momentum for taking your next positive step in the day. 
  • THE CREAKS & CRACKS:  Water will help to coat your joints and nourish your muscles. This helps them operate effectively and efficiently. It helps YOU get a better lift, and your BODY recover. Hydration is essentially your insurance policy. 

WHEN YOU FALL OFF THE HYDRATION BUS:

Mid-day headaches? Annoyed with anyone and anything? Bit of dizziness keeping you down? Fatigue keeping you behind? Lack of energy at the end of the day? These are just a few of the MINOR issues that occur if your body isn’t getting enough water. And in the long run, not staying hydrated can lead to a slew of much more serious issues including heat injuries (especially for runners & athletes), kidney/urinary complications, seizures, and moreYour body absolutely, positively, NEEDS water to be able to operate effectively. Without it, your body will start to shut down. Here’s how…

  • TIRED AS SHIT:  Okay… guys. Who likes feeling tired? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Nobody. And this is just one of the FIRST signs that your body is lacking water. When you don’t get enough water, your body is exhausted. It has to WORK HARDER to do the things you do. It has to use MORE ENERGY because it is NOT RUNNING AS EFFICIENTLY. You will feel tired…. and that is gonna really bring ya down productivity wise. JUST BE SMART & DRINK MORE WATER.
  • YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE THIRSTY:  When you’re not getting enough water your MOOD will be worse. Think about it: when you are tired, have a headache, have a cramp, etc…. You’re not gonna be happy about it. And this could impact your relationships, your job performance, and basically everyone and everything around you. Don’t be that guy. DRINK MORE WATER. 
  • WEIGHT GAIN:  As I said earlier, drinking water can help to curb cravings and boost your metabolism. On the other end, if you’re NOT getting your water, weird shit happens man. You get MORE cravings, your body metabolizes SLOWER, and because you’re so damn tired, YOU’RE LESS LIKELY TO WORKOUT. Don’t to this to yourself. DRINK MORE WATER. 

Bottom Line:

JUST DRINK YOUR WATER.

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

Washington

States

Seattle, Washington

State #23

Location: Seattle, Washington
Half: Mud and Chocolate Half Marathon
Date: April 15, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Who’d I travel with? Brett
Pre-run meal? Chocolate. Just kiddingggggg. But honestly… I don’t know, probably because I had too much chocolate. 

MUD AND CHOCOLATE (LOTS OF CHOCOLATE):

From Louisiana, to St. Louis, to Seattle. Three months, three races, three states, three adventures. Seriously. At this point, I was banging out 13 miles left and right and hopping on and off planes as if I knew what I was doing, or knew how to actually navigate an airport. Seattle, Washington – state #23. I was traveling with Brett, and, since he’s quite the planner (thankfully, because I am not), we had a ton on our agenda already – he had already looked up the best places to eat, to drink, to play games – we (he) had everything planned out. Until approximately 10 minutes before landing; at which point, we realized, Seattle, Washington has legalized some things recreationally that, well, aren’t necessarily legal elsewhere. 

NOW. I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE ENGAGED IN THIS TYPE OF RECREATION. GOSH. WHO DO YOU THINK I AM. Also, not sure if you read my post on my Arizona adventure already (if not, check it out for a better understanding) but, again, I will say that I really, really, enjoyed Seattle’s fine chocolate and gummy bear selection. And again, I consumed WAY TOO MANY FREAKING GUMMIES AND CHOCOLATES. I’m just trying to live my best life here, okay guys? Anyways, as I was saying, we had everything all planned out. Until we found chocolate. And gummies. 

We were Air B&B-ing it again this trip. So we found our place, settled in, and ate chocolate till we passed out. When we woke up, it was finally time to explore Seattle. But first, a 5 mile run through the Seattle forests. This trip was unique because, for this particular race, there were two races: a 5 mile race on Saturday, and the half marathon on Sunday. Brett really wanted to do the 5 mile race. So, like the supportive girlfriend I am, I ran it with him on Saturday before my own race on Sunday (did I mention there was MORE free chocolate at the end of the race? I mean, it wasn’t quiteeeee like the chocolate we already had back in our room, but it was still some damn good chocolate). It was pouring out, but underneath the tall trees you couldn’t feel a single raindrop. We were completely sheltered by the forest canopy, and I couldn’t get enough of it, any of it. It was absolutely unbelievable– the trees, the paths, the leaves and pine needles all over the ground. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to be able to explore 7 more miles of it the following day. I got first female in the race – scoring myself a nice coffee mug and some more free chocolate (chocolate seemed to be the theme of my Seattle trip). After our race, we finally showered and got ready to explore the city of Seattle (but first – another piece of OUR chocolate —– bad idea in hindsight). 

Guys. Don’t get me wrong. Seattle is absolutely unbelievable. But. I’m not going to lie here. This day will go down in the history of my life as one of the funniest days I have ever experienced. I mean. Here we are. In this city that neither of us have ever been to. On the furthest reach of the US. Completely confused and lost. And laughing at literally everything. Except the guy who we thought was a security guard at the Space Needle – he wasn’t funny until after we realized that he wasn’t going to arrest us for anything, but rather, was just going to point our dumbasses in the correct direction to go up it. We explored everywhere (I’m not sure how we navigated our way around the city, but the picture evidence says that we made our way around pretty well). We went to the Gum Wall (who knew that was there???), the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market. At the end of our day-long adventure, we got some food and finally made our way back and crashed to recharge for my race in the morning. 

It was the morning of the race and we were in the middle of the forests of Seattle…completely soaked. It was raining from the moment we got to the registration table until the moment they blew the whistle for us to begin racing through the mud to the finish line. Luckily for me, once I start running, everything becomes background noise. From previous experience, I decided it might be a good idea for me to start near the front of the pack to avoid bobbing and weaving around people as I passed – this ended up being a very good idea. As I started running, I realized that I was quickly ahead of the pack – the whole pack. Literally. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and nobody had passed me yet.

This race was a 4.5 loop, which means I had to run the same route three times before finally detouring to the finish line. As I started my second loop, the man at the water counter shouted, “KEEP IT UP YOU’RE IN FIRST!” And in that moment, I decided, I was going to win the damn thing. I was flying through the woods, cutting corners, weaving between trees, conquering hills and speeding down the slopes. With just a mile left, I knew I was still in first place, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I kept going, maintaining my pace and my focus, until the finish line was in sight. And when I saw it, I sprinted through, shocking everyone because a female had won the race (WOOHOOOOOO!). It was my first overall win, and I couldn’t have been more proud, or more excited; because, like I said, there was free chocolate at the end of the race, and I got first dibs. 7:30 minute miles, 1:36 finish time, first female, first overall finisher, YES. 

I shoved chocolate of all kinds in my face as my body finally started to calm down from the rush of excitement. After a few more cupcakes, it was definitely time to celebrate. After a long shower to get the mud off, we drove back into the city to explore, and continue, our adventure. We went to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (SO. FREAKING. GOOD), got a sundae at Shug’s Soda Fountain (because I really needed more chocolate)and played connect 4 as we watched the sunset at a little wine bar in Pike Place. It was absolutely perfect. State #23 will always be remembered for it’s first place finish, mud, and-of course- the chocolate. 

Virginia

States

Lynchburg, Virginia

State #6

Where? Lynchburg, Virginia
State?  #6
Date?  July, 2016
Race?   Lynchburg Half Marathon
Finish Time?   1:50:00
Pace?   8:20/mile

HOT, HUMID & HEADPHONES

State #6, otherwise known as I’M MORE THAN HALF WAY TO 10! #6 was in Lynchburg, Virginia. Who knew Lynchburg was hilly? Not me when I signed up, that’s for sure. Who knows Lynchburg is 98 degrees with 95% humidity in the middle of summer? Not me, that’s for sure. But like I’ve said before, every single state is an adventure and an irreplaceable step in this journey.

This was also the first half marathon that my mom wasn’t able to come to (cue the sad music). My boyfriend at the time agreed to come be my cheerleader for this race. He lived in North Carolina, so we met in Lynchburg. In addition to being the first half marathon that I traveled to alone, this was also the first hotel room I had ever rented on my own… and probably the last that anyone will ever let me rent on my own. He got to the hotel first and called me in horror, “Amy, what the hell were you thinking?” I didn’t see the problem… it was just for one night. While checking into the hotel, the lady at the front desk asked us if we would be using the fridge or T.V. I must not have been hiding my confusing because then she explained how “they cost extra”. I didn’t even know hotels could charge you extra to use the fridge. Anyways, not the best hotel I’ve stayed at during this adventure, but it probably won’t be the worst either.

One of the absolute best parts of each and every trip: dinner. Where? OLIVE GARDEN. As you can probably tell, I love Olive Garden. Nothing says pre-race meal  like free breadsticks and a big ass bowl of pasta. Not to mention the bottomless salad. Our waiter introduced himself as “Batman.” No, I am not kidding. We ate 3 baskets of breadsticks, 2 bowls of salad, and I got spaghetti and meatballs. I’d say I was efficiently carbed up and ready to run the next day.

That next morning, I woke up, had some caffeine, put on my race bib, and walked outside to see how it felt. It was HOT. I’m talking the kind of hot where everything feels disgustingly sticky and damp, where your hair sticks to your neck, the kind of hot where you can barely make any movements without sweat dripping down your back. PERFECT (yes, that is sarcasm).

So, it was hot. 98 degrees to be exact. On top of that, add 95% humidity as the cherry on top. But, like usual, my “it’s fine” mentality pretended that everything would go exactly as planned, I’d run my usual time with ease, finish another state, and smash some pizza afterwards. WRONG.

I was cruising along, got past mile one, got past mile two, and then my headphones started to slip out of my ears. I put them back in, they fell back out, back in, back out, in, out, in, out… WHAT THE HELL. Yes, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “well…. what did you expect when it’s 95% humidity and you’re sweating like a pig?” Moral of this disaster: BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS IF YOU ARE COMMITTED TO RUNNING IN ANY TEMPERATURE WHICH MAY INDUCE MASS SWEATING. For real though, I had to finish the race by listening to music out loud (sorry everyone).

The other major memory from this race: the elevation (which I did not mentally prepare for whatsoever). The race was flat for the first 3-4 miles, perfectly paved path with a few twists and turns, beautiful bridges….and then it happened. A massive, wrap-around, mountain of a hill. I’m talking the kind of hill that goes on so long that it wraps around and around and around, and you can’t see the top until you’ve finally reached it. When I got to the top, everyone around me had started walking. I tried to keep going, tried to keep my momentum… but I had to slow down. I didn’t stop, not quite yet at least, but I slowed down considerably. I ran miles 5-9 SLLLOWWWWWW. I’m talkin like fake-jogging at some points, the kind of jog where you’d be better off walking because you’re going to damn slow. But I FINISHED. It might not have been pretty, but it was #6.

TAKE AWAYS:

  • BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
  • Maybe a massive pasta, bread, dessert type of dinner isn’t the best pre-race meal????

Texas

States

San Antonio, Texas

State #19

Location: San Antonio, Texas 
Half: Rock and Roll San Antonio Half Marathon 
Date: December 2, 2018
Finish Time: 1:38
Who’d I travel with? Mom
Pre-run meal? Carbonara 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Y’ALL 

I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO TEXAS. No joke though. For some reason, I have always wanted to go there, and for a while, I even wanted to move to Texas (despite the fact that I had never actually been there). And guys, Texas did NOT disappoint. For real, San Antonio now ranks pretty high on places I’d love to live. Prior to my trip, when people said, “you should definitely go see the Riverwalk,” I was thinking there was a cute little river that you could see from the city, like seeing the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I didn’t know that the river literally IS part of the city, running right through it and offering it’s own underground downtown. San Antonio reminded me of why this adventure is so amazing – because I get to see, and explore, places that I never may have known existed. 

The first day of December – usually a pretty chilly day in my experience (between Wisconsin and Ohio). But the first day of December in Texas? 75 and nothing but sun. It was love at first sight that morning – between the weather and my first walk down the river, I was nothing but smiles. If you’ve never seen the riverwalk, please see the pictures below, because it doesn’t do it any justice when describing the shops and restaurants lining both sides of the river, the cobblestone paths and bridges that twist and turn with the waters edge, the trees and shrubs which stretch over and across the water. Being December, the trees and restaurants were strewn with ornaments, lights, and tinsel, giving you the feeling of Christmas in July. 

We walked down the paths, stopping only for tacos and margaritas. And because we could, because it was DECEMBER and now approaching 80 degrees, we decided to lay out by the pool for hours. Nothing feels better than being poolside in winter. I stretched my legs and rested my mind and muscles in preparation for the race the next morning. But, being Amy, something is always left unprepared. Honestly, I am the most disorganized “serious” runner ever. Refusing to get new shoes for far too long, the day had finally come when my shoes were literally tearing at the seams. There was no possible way that they were going to last another 13 miles without falling apart, or causing an injury. So, of course, I do the ONE THING that they highly recommend you NEVER do the day of the race – try out your brand new running shoes. 

But come on, they were tie-dye rainbow running shoes… WHO COULD BE WORRIED ABOUT TIE-DYE RAINBOW SHOES? Not me. The night before the race we got all dressed up and went out for a beautiful Italian dinner. Honestly. It was beautiful. They filled our water glasses and then brought over a freaking plate of cucumber, orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit slices – offering to flavor our water. Like what the heck? Hell yeah I’ll take some cucumber and lime water. And our waitress offered us some local advice – that we needed to go somewhere called the “Pearl.” After dinner, we walked to the Alamo, which, if you haven’t seen, is pretty unbelievable. I admittedly didn’t know much about the battle before San Antonio, and it was honestly extremely humbling and moving to see where so many individuals lost their lives defending the people of our country. It’s these small things, these places I never considered I would see or explore, that make this journey with every single step.

The race was UNBELIEVABLE. Honestly. It was the absolute perfect running weather – 65, sunny, no wind. I was in my pink tank top and tie-dye shoes (which, worked extremely well btw), and I ran my own race at my own pace without a worry in the world. And more than that, I did well. I ran as fast as my legs could go that day. And my finish time ranked somewhere in the middle of my overall times. 

Afterwards, obviously, my mom and I explored every place in San Antonio that could offer us an after-race drink. Following the advice of our waitress, we sought out the place she had suggested – the Pearl. It was its own little nook of shops, restaurants, and greenery which all encompassed the Pearl brewery. It was beautiful. A large grass area where you could sit and sip your mimosas, shops which you could explore while enjoying your craft beer, ice cream and food which we probably would have tried, had we not gotten a bit distracted. I’m not sure how all of this escalated, but I do know that it started with two small dogs wearing boots, sunglasses, and football jerseys.

These two dogs had been adorably attached to their male owner as we watched and laughed about their little boots. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that these dogs went absolute ape-shit when another, larger, dog walked by. Honestly. They attacked this dog so fiercely that their boots flew into the air. The owner of the larger dog couldn’t help but burst into laughter with everyone else as these dogs surrounded him and his pup. After the battle was finished, the two guys approached us with their dog to share in the laughter of the entire scene. They asked us where we were from/what we were doing/the normal stuff. And then offered to show us a few more local spots on our walk back down the river. As we walked with them, they stopped to show us two hidden gems – a brewery with swings that overlooked the river, and a Veterans bar which offered music and a historical feeling to our trip.

After dodging their attempts to flirtatiously continue into the evening together, my mom and I went our separate way for dinner. We ended our trip with an amazing dinner on the river. Sharing a bottle of wine, we reminisced on all of the places we had been together, and all of the places we have left to go. It’s nights like these, conversations and experiences like these, that I will always look back upon with a full heart. It fills you up, reminds you of why you’re here in this world, why you’re so lucky to do life with the ones you love. It shows you how much you have, and how much is yet to come.