What a Runner *Really* Eats – Run It

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

What a runner really eats…

Runners are kind of notorious for eating. All that running really makes you hungry, and thinking about the post-race food is often something that gets you through the last couple of miles of a long race. I mean, one of my guest writers is called ‘The Rungry Health Coach.’ Running plus all the food is a thing. So, maybe it’s a little surprising that it’s taken us this long to turn to the topic of food – specifically, what a runner really eats – on the Run It series. It’s October, after all, so we had 9 months of awesome tips on all kinds of other topics already – and here are those links in case you want to play catch up:

Best Workouts for Half and Full Marathons

Mental Workouts for Runners

Our Rave Runs

How to Beat the Heat While Running

Hydration Tips and Tricks for Runners

Workouts for Running Injuries

Best and Worst Running Advice

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill

Winter Running Tips

Also this month, we have some exciting news – we have a brand new blogger joining us for the Run It series! Please welcome Sandra, the runner behind the blog Organic Runner Mom. Sandra’s family business is Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, based in New Hampshire, so I think there’s a good chance you’re going to see some eggs in her post today! 😉

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Speaking of eggs, they are the one thing I cannot eat before running. I love eggs. They make up a good portion of my diet. But eating them before running – even an hour or more before running – makes me ridiculously nauseous as soon as I start moving. It’s the one and only food that does that to me. I’m telling you this, because while I think it’s fun to see what other runners eat, and maybe get some ideas for pre-race meals, or fueling for long runs, there’s one important golden rule to remember when it comes to what runners eat:

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

What works for me may not be right for you. What works for a 5K racer definitely will not work for an ultramarathoner. What you eat before, during and after running is going to be as individual as you are, and really the most important thing is that you find the right meals, fuel and snacks that work for you – keeping you satiated, healthy, and not bonking in a race.

So, I’m going to take you through some of my go-to’s for pre, during, and post-racing and running. Maybe you’ll find some things to test out for yourself!

What I Eat Pre-Racing and Running

Okay, we established no eggs in sight. On the rare occasion I run in the early morning (and by rare, I mean I think that’s happened twice this year), I won’t eat anything at all before I run. I did used to be an early morning runner, and I ran on an empty stomach back then, too. I think it began as just a timing thing – if I was going to drag myself out of bed early enough to run before work, there was no way I was taking extra time to eat beforehand. It wasn’t until I tried Laura’s Runner’s Reset that I discovered fasted running was a thing now, and we experimented with it during the reset. I can run fine on an empty stomach, but I know plenty of other people who would go a mile and want to collapse without having eaten beforehand.

For the most part, I keep my pre-run nutrition super light and easily digestible. My favorite thing to have before running is a smoothie, with yogurt, frozen fruit, and some kind of veggie (spinach, kale, and peas are usually my veggie additions). It’s enough fuel for my run without feeling heavy in my stomach.

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

(If you want some tips on making your smoothie a nutrition powerhouse, check out this post from the Rungry Health Coach!)

If I am running longer than 8 miles, or I’m racing, my pre-run meal is ideally a couple of pieces of whole grain toast with peanut butter, half a banana, and a cup of coffee.

The night before a long run or race, I usually eat whatever I happen to have planned on cooking. The only times I have consciously carbo-loaded the night before a race have been before the two marathons I completed (NYC in 2010 and 2013, and the marathon I didn’t complete in 2016), and for each of those I ate pasta the night before. And if there’s wine on offer, I’ll have a glass with dinner (but just one).

Fueling During the Run

Anything less than 10 miles, I don’t usually take anything with me to eat on the run, unless I’m training for a half marathon and want to test out different fuel. I think every time I train for a half marathon or a marathon, I test different fuel. It’s because I want it to not be true that what works best for me is Gummi Bears.

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

I want to be able to take the gels they hand out at aid stations in the marathon. I want the caffeine and electrolyte-infused cubes and chews to be what works for me. Trust me, 100 calories of fuel packaged for runners like those is way easier to carry than a little ziplock stuffed with colorful bears who invariably get all sticky and gross. Also – it’s candy. It seems like I should eat something more…runnery. But there you go, like I said, every runner is different, and I know that Gummi Bears work for me. 100 calories worth at about mile 8 or 9 of a half marathon, and 100 calories every 5 miles in a marathon.

Eating After a Run

Hi, eggs. I love eggs. It makes me sad I can’t eat them pre-running. So when I get back from a long run, I whip up a delicious scramble. Some of my favorite scrambles:

With red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, and shredded mozzarella.

With brown rice, peas, scallions, ham, and a dash of soy sauce (like a faux fried rice).

With feta, green peppers, oregano, and onion.

With ground turkey, black beans, salsa, and cheddar.

After a race, I usually just wander through the food spread and pick whatever appeals to me. I kind of miss the post-race bagels at all the NYRR races – they are (obviously) not the same outside of NYC. But if there are oatmeal and raisin cookies or apples on offer, they will be in my belly. And I absolutely, definitely, without question, will race for beer.

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Now that you know what fuels me on the run, let’s check out what my fellow Run It bloggers are feeding their faces with…I know I’m curious!

Sandra from Organic Runner Mom – I totally called it on the eggs! 😉

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Angela from Happy Fit Mama

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Allie from Vita Train for Life

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Laura from This Runner’s Recipes

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama

What a Runner Really Eats - The Run It bloggers share what they eat before, during and after running and racing...you might be surprised!

So, what do you eat for running?

Is there anything you can’t stomach before a run?

Comments

  1. We are basically twins when it comes to fueling for runs!!! OMG it’s crazy!! No eggs for me at all, no need to fuel for less than 8 miles and eggs afterward? Hell yes!! Love this so much and only wish we could run together!!!

  2. Gummy bears and beer! Yes!! It works
    Paria@momontherunsanity.com recently posted…FarewellMy Profile

  3. I love that your secret weapon is gummi bears! SO happy to be joining you awesome ladies!
    Sandra D Laflamme recently posted…Run It–What a Runner Eats Before, During and After a Long Run.My Profile

  4. I cannot eat eggs before a run either – my stomach is too sensitive. And always yes to post race beer!

  5. I don’t normally eat before a short run either. I love to fuel with gummies on my longer run. Hello sour patch kids!
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…My Fall decorMy Profile

  6. Gummies are my JAM! I also like kid packs of fruit snacks for run fuel as well! Cheaper than gummy bears and they come in individual servings. I have also found Fig Newtons are good for mid longish trail runs for me, especially when I start before sunrise and I can’t stomach eating at 4:30 a.m. 😛

  7. I usually try to eat plenty, but at least two hears before running otherwise my stomach is killing me. I can easily go to the gym after an hour of eating, but I will need twice as that or more to keep running without issues.

  8. Didn’t realize gummy bears were so popular among runners, I love it!
    I am blessed with a very insensitive stomach so I just avoid anything too heavy before a longer run and that’s about it. I am however careful with liquids. Having to change routes while training to add a bathroom break has happened before and I hate it. Also the feeling of something splashing around the stomach is something you do not want to have while running.
    Nina recently posted…3 of my favourite breakfasts latelyMy Profile

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