Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been rethinking my whole training. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about food. Specifically, delicious whole foods and how I can incorporate them into my runs.
What you eat has a huge impact on the quality of your long runs. Eating properly can help you avoid bonking or hitting the wall, and with proper fuel you FEEL better while running. With a little trial and error, you can discover the perfect formula to boost your energy and performance.
The standard guideline for eating while running is to eat if you will be running longer than 60 minutes. Aim to eat 100-200 calories every hour. If you are training for a half or whole marathon, then start snacking about 30 minutes into your long runs. By snacking early you are allowing your digestive system a chance to do its job and get you energy before you start to feel tired. Obviously this will be different for everyone, so take time to experiment how much and when you need to eat during long runs.
As I was researching different running snacks, I was overwhelmed by the differing options other people suggest like gels, chews, raisins, bananas, oranges, marshmallows, gummy bears, and it goes on. Some people suggest straight up sugar like gels and candy. They recommend avoiding fiber and fat. Other people suggest a combination of protein, carbs, and fat. There is a lot of mixed information out there! In both of my marathons, gels, bananas, and oranges were available to racers at the aid stations. Because of this, I trained using gels, bananas, and oranges. Gels are great because they are so easy to carry and consume. They have been designed to give your body quick energy. The problem with gels, is you have to consume a lot of them to keep up your energy because is it such quick energy, and while running a marathon, you burn through it so fast. It also trains your body to only burn glycogen during your runs instead of tapping into fat storage (See my previous post on this). Because of this, I’ve started experimenting with eating more whole foods and proteins.
Before a run, eat something light with whole grains and protein, like whole wheat bread and peanut butter, oatmeal with nuts, Pinole chia waffles (pictured above), or a whole wheat pita with hummus. Make sure your tummy feels settled before you take off running.
During the run, snacks like almonds, oatmeal peanut butter balls (recipe below), fruits, pretzels, crackers, raisins or other dried fruits, and dates are great suggestions. The Pinole chia waffles are also a great mid run snack if your stomach can handle it. I got the recipe from here. Lately, I’ve loved the oatmeal peanut butter balls. They are a great combination of protein, quick sugar, and some slower energy.
As you start experimenting with new foods while running, take it slow. Some people can eat whatever they want while running and others, well, they have to be careful or they’ll be racing for a bathroom. If you are training for a race, train with what you’ll eat on race day.
What to drink
Stay hydrated! Drink water or other electrolyte drinks. In my mission to eat more wholesome foods, especially while running. I’ve create a homemade electrolyte drink that is perfect for quenching your thirst. It’s all natural and so delicious. My husband and I have recently gotten into juicing, and I’m excited to incorporate juicing into my runs as well. Fresh juice is easily absorbed by the body, which is perfect for runners!
This is my base recipe. Feel free to add strawberries, coconut water, or other fruits to add variety. So delicious and the possibilities are endless!
Orange Lemon Electrolyte Drink
- 4 Oranges
- 1/4 Lemon
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pure Maple Syrup
Juice oranges and lemon. Mix in salt and syrup until combined. I was just shy of 20 oz, so I added enough water to get to 20 oz. You can add more or less depending on your preference.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls
These oatmeal peanut butter balls are a perfect for a quick fix while running. They have a great balance of protein, carbs, and fat. They also include chia seeds and flax seeds. Super foods for runners! You can also mix in chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, or whatever else sounds yummy. I mixed in unsweetened coconut flakes.
- ½ c. Peanut Butter (Or Almond Butter)
- 1 c. Old Fashioned Oats
- ⅓ c. Honey (Or Agave)
- ½ c. Ground Flax Seed
- 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
- Other Mix ins like chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, coconut flakes, etc.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Form into bite sized balls and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
I made these into bite sized balls so they wouldn’t be too difficult to eat while running. You can package them into plastic bags, or I used the press and seal saran wrap to individually wrap each one. This makes it easy to pull one out and pop in your mouth without getting your hands sticky.
One warning with these, if you carry them in a pocket or close to your body, they will warm up and get sticky. If they stay cool, they are the perfect texture. Make sure you eat them with lots of water! Especially to help wash down the peanut butter.
There are so many snack ideas out there. Spend some time to find your favorites and stick with those, and then share!! I’d love to know your favorite running snacks.