Best Foods For Fuelling Your Run

Posted by Sarah Norris, 10th January 2016

What to eat and what not to eat can be very confusing – almost more so when you are training.

I’m bombarded with information, sometimes conflicting, about what I should or shouldn’t eat…or yet another celebrity diet.

I’m not a professional nutritionist. But I am a Personal Trainer, a Dogfit Partner, the daughter of a chef and I love food.

It doesn’t matter which way I look at it – I am a great believer in a healthy, balanced approach.

Recipes for fuelling your run

I try to stick to the 80/20 rule.

So, as much as I can, I stick to home cooked, real food…80% of the time. Food that is all about good quality fresh ingredients. Ingredients that are full of the good nutrients needed to fuel exercise or any day-to-day activity.

The remaining 20% of the time, I might indulge myself. Food that might not be so good, but without it life would be very dull…and then there’s the old adage ‘everything in moderation’. If you’re like me this would be comfort foods like pasta, roast dinners and cheese, not to mention the odd glass of red.

Nut Butter on toast as a nutritional meal

Now that Christmas and the New Year are behind us, I thought that I’d share some thoughts on what to eat before a run – I know that I’ve been running to burn off the Christmas turkey and plum pudding…but even without my Christmas guilt, I love the days when Missy (my young Springer) and I get to run.

We love running in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Although there’s little better than heading out to the country, there’s something about running in London when it’s quiet and watching the city slowly wake up.

This said, whether it’s into the car or just out of the door and into the park, it’s all about fuel from a quick (and healthy) snack… just to get you on the road.

Banana and apricots as a nutritional meal

My staples for a very early start (before work) are a small banana, a slice of rye toasted with nut butter and couple of medjool dates or dried apricots. I’ll eat these no less than 30 minutes before (and no more than 60 minutes) before Missy and I head out of the door. This has never let me down. It sets me up perfectly for a good run and a great start to the day.

At weekends we run a little later with a group or class but, much to my husband’s dismay, get up at our normal time. This allows us to enjoy a healthy breakfast 2 to 3 hours before we run.

Breakfast – sorry, it’s not a fry-up (although that would fall nicely into my 20%) is a bowl of good old fashioned porridge topped with a handful of berries, a little honey and a sprinkle of chia or flax seeds. Great fuel for a run and the day. Luckily my husband loves porridge (as does Missy).

Nutrition and running

Time and trial and error, guided by some simple principles, have allowed me to learn what gives me the fuel that I need for a run.

We’re all individuals (as are our metabolisms). You’ll need to find what works best for you, but once you have, you’ll be set up for your run and the day.

You can vary it, but stick to what you find works best on a race day (or ahead of a long run) to avoid any risk of GI problems.

My guiding principles are:

  • Choose foods that are easily digested
  • Timing and quantity – the closer to your run the smaller the meal/snack
  • Hydrate – drink small, regular sized amounts of water approx 6-8 fl oz an hour

But it doesn’t end there. It’s as important to re-fuel after the run…but that’s the next chapter.

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