Eat and Run

It’s Tuesday again and that means another Tuesday on the Run, hosted by the lovely April, Erika and Patty. Today’s topic: nutrition.

When I began to run, one of the first things I realized was that the way I had been eating wasn’t going to cut it. In the early days of pounding the pavement, I made these mistakes:

  • I never ate breakfast. I tried to be an early morning runner without eating anything before I went out for a run.
  • I thought being a runner meant eating a lot of carbs.
  • I didn’t get enough protein.
  • I was terrible about hydration.
  • I thought running meant I could eat anything I wanted, guilt-free. Oh, if only.

It didn’t take long into training for my first race to realize I had to make some real changes, and quick. I did a lot of research and was quickly overwhelmed by all of the information out there–and a lot of it was conflicting. I read what seemed like every book on the topic, and my favorite one was The Runner’s Diet from Runner’s World magazine. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it! It does a really great job of breaking it all down: figuring out calorie intake, protein and carb ratio and offers detailed plans of what to eat and when to eat it. I still pick it up often and find it useful.

But what really came out of all my research was this: every runner has to figure out what works for their own body.

For example, I know I need to eat a good hour before I start a race–any later and I cramp up. My favorite pre-race food is a  nuts over chocolate Luna Bar (also my favorite thing to eat before early morning exercise classes!). If I’m going to do anything over a 5k, I bring these babies. The vanilla is my favorite.

You’ll notice there is no vanilla here, because I eat them first!

Ironically, the thing I want most after a run is a banana. It’s ironic because any other time I despise bananas.

I know I can’t handle anything new or unexpected the night before a race. I usually get jumpy before a race–and nerves and new food isn’t a good combination. My favorite “night before” meal is a bowl of spaghetti with my favorite sauce and ground turkey.

I struggle with a bit with my protein intake. I’m a picky eater and I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I’ve had to get creative with finding sources of protein I like. My favorite post-workout protein fix is a smoothie. I’ve been known to have my husband make one as I’m walking home from the gym so it is ready for me when I get home!


After a lot of trial and error, here is what I know about myself and hydration: I need to stop at every water stop there is. And if I can’t find a list of where the water stops are going to be, I bring my own bottle. I live in Georgia where it is humid all year and the hills are rolling. Does this mean I pee a lot on race courses and when I’m out training on my own? Yep. In fact, I plan my training runs around places that have public restrooms (because I refuse to pee outside. I just can’t bring myself to do it, despite the years of Girl Scout training I had).

Probably the biggest misconception I had when I started running was that it gave me the all clear to eat whatever I wanted. Nope. When I was reading The Runner’s Diet one of the things that hit home with me was this bit of information:


One mile. 100 calories. That’s it. That means a 5k doesn’t cancel out the giant hot fudge sundae you scarf down afterwards. A little depressing, isn’t it?

Of course, I also believe that life is short, and if you want a sundae (or reeses pieces covered rice crispy Mickey treat, as the case may be)–well, you should eat it! Just make sure you’re eating the bananas and drinking enough water, too.


What did running teach you about nutrition?


12 thoughts on “Eat and Run

  1. A lot of the same answers as you, actually! I thought I could run so I could eat- whatever! My weight hasn’t really changed in over 7 years of running, so clearly I’m a slow learner in this department! LOL Thanks for the great post and for linking up!


  2. OMG in that photo you are holding my personal diet kryptonite! Mickey Rice Krispy treat covered in chocolate and mini-Reeses Pieces. Luckily for me, they seem to have stopped carrying them at the Magic Kingdom! Oh the memories… Thanks for linking up with us today!


  3. I agree, moderation is key! You don’t want to cut out treats entirely (because seriously, what fun would that be?) but we also can’t use our running as an excuse to!!

    I also can’t try new foods right before a race. Race nerves and new foods can be a nasty combo. :-/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s