You spent three hours in the shoe shop finding the perfect pair of runners. You bought the climate-appropriate-moisture-wicking clothes. Your fitness tracker monitors nearly every significant bodily function every 3.4 minutes. Then, you eat a crueler and the last 3 ounces of last night’s steak before your run? Come on, now! As important as the gear and the scheduling is the nutritional prep that goes into your run. With so many food options and a thousand voices telling you this food is the one you’ve been looking for, what should you eat before you hit the pavement? We have some pointers for your planning and a few options we’re sure you’ll love.
- How much time do you have before your run? – You don’t want to start your run with a tummy full of steak nachos with sour cream and cheese. Nothing good can come of that. If you’ll be running within the hour, try a handful of figs, raisins, or dates. Going for a longer run? Try a slice of white bread (too much fiber in whole wheat) with almond butter and a drizzle of honey. If you have a bit longer, say 90 minutes, try a couple of Superhero Muffins. If you’re two hours out, have a full but not-too-hearty meal. A stack of pancakes with honey and peanut butter or a pita stuffed with hummus, seitan, and veggies.
- Low fiber and low fat – Even two ours out, be mindful that too much fiber can lead to… well, an emergency. Too much fat will bog you down and make you feel sluggish. Remember, what you eat in prep for your run is fuel. If you’re convinced white bread is the greatest risk to freedom since the Cold War, great. But it may be the better option for a simple carb, low fiber source of fuel you’ll burn through as you scale hills and city streets for the next 60 minutes.
- Experiment on training day, not race day – We say every time we discuss food or gear: don’t make changes on race day. Does a pre-race coffee help your running partner stave off tiredness? Try it a few days out, not on your way to the starting line. You wouldn’t bring new shoes to a race. Don’t bring a new nutrition/food plan with you either.
- Tailor the food to the run – If you had a hearty dinner the night before and are setting out for a 30-45 morning run, you may be fine not eating before your run. Just a glass of water and off you go! If you’ll be going more intense, like mixing in speed intervals, you’ll probably need nearly a full meal’s worth of calories to get the most out of your body. Planning your runs will help you plan your meals and snacks to support your overall goals.
Using these basic guidelines, you’ll discover recipes upon recipes upon recipes that will fit your running plan and help you meet your goals. There is no magic, one-size-fits-all-pre-run food, but there are some time- and athlete-tested guidelines that can help you make sure you’re fueling your body appropriately for the run that lies ahead. If cramping is a potential problem during your run, HOTSHOT is also a great addition to your pre-run fueling. Pick yours up here and see how proper preparations can change your training. Be sure you keep in touch! We’re wherever you are—on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Now, about those Superhero Muffins…