Monday, July 21, 2014

Runners Tell All: Nutrition & Fuel

It's time again for our monthly link up, hosted by The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch. Every month is a different topic discussed by runners of all ages and skill levels. The list of topics can be found here.

This month we're talking about nutrition and fuel for runners. I don't feel like I'm super good at this, but I am getting better. I'll talk about what works for me, but of course every body is different. What works for me may not work for you. You just have to play with it!

Here is what I've figured out for my body as far as regular nutrition goes:
- stay away from high fiber foods on a high mileage week. (Peanut butter is a no go for me)
- lean proteins like chicken and fish are where it's at! Also, lots of veggies (could definitely be better here!).

Recently, when I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, I really paid attention to carb loading the week before. This can get tricky, because when I think "carb loading" my brain naturally goes to "EAT ALL THE CARBS!" land.

But carb loading really only means eating maybe an extra 30-90 grams of carbs a day. So for me, that meant maybe half a bagel with lunch. I also ate more rice and cous cous that week, rather than potatoes because it seems like those carbs work better for me.

The day before a race, I really restrict carbs. Here's what my menu typically looks like:
Breakfast: coffee and banana
Lunch: chicken caesar salad w/light dressing and a few croutons
Snack: walnuts
Dinner: chicken or fish, cous cous, veggies

That is exactly what I ate and had a really great, strong half-marathon!

Fueling the day of the race is something I have down to a science for me, but again, every body is different! I typically have one cup of coffee in the morning, followed by a Honey Stinger waffle.

I am that obnoxious girl who runs with a fuel belt and avoids aid stations. I don't want to risk eating or drinking something unfamiliar and have it backfire on me! I have two water bottles that hold around 8 oz each. For anything over 9 miles, I take two packs of Honey Stinger Energy Chews, but stick to just one for 6-8 mile runs. No fuel needed for 6 miles and under. I typically eat one around 45 minutes/5 miles in, and then again around mile 8 or 10 depending on the length of the run. I eat them all at once, rather than a few here or there. That would fluster me because I'd either have to hold the package the entire time, or keep unzipping and rezipping the packs on my belt. I also started adding in Salt Stick tabs around mile 6 to help with electrolytes. The jury is still out on that one.

Last month, I was the lucky link-up winner and received a pack of Nuun electrolyte tabs. (Thanks Beka & Amanda!)

I just tried one this weekend for my long run. I filled up one of my bottles with water, and one with the Nuun (watermelon flavor). Nuun is kind of weird because it's all electrolytes, so it's not sweet at all. I didn't like it before but it was ok while I was running, which kind of shows you that your body will accept what it's craving/needing regardless of taste. The tabs are meant to dissolve in 16 oz of water, so I drank the rest after my 8 mile run. I was still physically tired, but I didn't get the same bloating/headache that I get from being electrolyte deficient. I'll try it a few more times to make sure it wasn't a one time thing, but I think this may work for me!

Post run, I typically eat a banana but I'm bad in this area, too. I'm not hungry for the first few hours after a long run, so I tend to forget to eat. For dinner the night after a race, it's always the same thing: big, juicy cheeseburger! So healthy, I know.

Want to hear more about how other runners are fueling their bodies? Check them out here:


  1. I like that you use a fuel belt during races to avoid aide-station foods that you have never tried before. I think it is a horrible idea to eat a new food on race day, you just never know how your body will react! I always try to train beforehand with the foods that a race is going to distribute at stations, but some races don't let you know what they will be providing. It can be tricky!

  2. Super interesting to read your review of the Nuun tablets! I've never tried them myself. I hope they do help, although personally watermelon flavor is not my favorite.Maybe a better flavor? Who knows. Thanks for linking up! Sorry this comment is so belated. I've been gone all last week and am just now getting back into the swing of things. Your blog background is cute! I like it :)