[Photo: Aleksandar Pasaric]
Fuelling your All-Season running adequately is critical to training success. This post focuses on five foods that every runner can add to their diet in order to create and sustain the energy they need, while also avoiding those “issues” that most runners have encountered at least once out on a trail.
This post is not meant to replace scientific nutritional advice; it is a list of good foods, and does not get into the aspects of timing, calories, macro-nutrients, etc. For advice on how to approach calculating the right levels and habits in those areas, please see your doctor.
- Bananas: There’s a reason that bananas are handed out at the end of so many races: they are a great food for recovery. The combination of sugar and potassium can help your depleted body soak up some much-needed energy, as well as avoiding cramps. It doesn’t hurt that nature provides for their individual packaging, thus making them the most eco-friendly way to hand out snacks.
- Granola bars: High in carbs, low(er) in sugar, these handy snacks are great before or after a run. They can also be easily stashed away in a pocket or hydration pack to bring along on those long runs. Just be sure to read the labels – there are plenty of granola bars on the market that are really just candy bars in disguise. Of course you can make you own as well. Check out a few of our go-to recipes here.
- Cereal with almond milk: A pre-run breakfast of cereal (sorry, no Cap'n Crunch though) is a great way to load up on energy without feeling full or bloated. In this category, label-reading is also advised because many brands are loaded with sugar. But as long as you’re consuming it pre-run, the boost of sugar may be just what you need. Runners suggest to use Almond Milk in place of dairy, because many believe that dairy products eaten prior to running can lead to those previously mentioned…“issues”.
- Homemade Peanut Butter. Every runner’s favorite, peanut butter is full of so many nutrients that are important to recovery. But did you know that peanut butter is just… smashed-up peanuts?!? If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor, making your own peanut butter is as easy as putting peanuts into the machine and turning it on. It will come out drier and a bit flaky, so it is recommended to drop in some honey or even a little vegetable oil. The possibilities are endless when you consider you can also add things like cocoa powder and powdered sugar.
- Hummus and Veg. If the suggestions so far all have one thing in common, it's some level of sugar. So, if that’s not your ideal ingredient, having hummus and pre-chopped vegetables on hand are a great way to snack after a run, while also keeping the calories low. Hummus is full of protein, and using vegetables as the hummus-delivery mechanism instead of crackers or chips, makes for a healthy post-run treat.
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for runners who get outside, no matter the weather.
And, of course water. So technically yes, there are six items on this five-item list. But this one really isn’t a food, yet it is the most important ingestible item that every runner needs. No matter the distance or the weather, don’t mess around with water. Never assume that a trail will have drinking water access. Never assume that an urban route will have functional drinking fountains, even if you’ve used them hundreds of times on previous runs. Packing the proper amount of water your body will need to sustain itself on your run is paramount to success to running, no matter the weather.
Again, this isn't meant to be a comprehensive list, as there are many foods that work for different people in different ways. The important thing is to try things out for yourself and find out what is right for you. But above all, fuel properly and stay hydrated, and do your best – in any season.