Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fuel for Your Feet

This post is especially for Thatmom, but it's been a long time coming. 

Think of your body as a car.  Like a car, your body is going going going all the time.  And like a car, your body doesn't run on oxygen.   Which means, if you plan on using it, you need to fuel it.

Thatmom complained to me (many months ago) that she was getting really tired after her runs.  Even though she was only doing a couple miles.  And when I asked what she was eating before the run, she confessed she wasn't eating anything.

Now, none of us would try to drive a car on an empty gas tank, but we are often guilty of trying to "drive" our bodies on empty.  And this isn't just in relation to running, think of how often you or someone you know skips meals.  But it is really important when it comes to running, because unlike sitting stationary at your desk all day, when you're running you're actively burning more calories and using your muscles which are going to be asking for help from the rest of your body.

So as tempting as it is to just run out in the morning, it's smarter to put something in your body first.  It doesn't have to be pancakes and eggs, but a combination of protein and carbs is a good start.  So a slice of toast with peanut butter, a smoothie, or I'm partial to Kind Bars.  If I have a lot of time, sometimes I'll make oatmeal with some egg whites stirred in.

Depending on the length of the run, you also may need to fuel during your run.  I can't give you an exact mileage, because it's going to be different for everyone, but if you feel like the ends of your runs start lagging, or that you're really worn out by the time you finish, or even if you start feeling light headed or dizzy, then you probably need to fuel while you run.  Unlike before the run, you want something that's going to give you some energy quickly, not a long burning type of fuel.  There are loads of fuels marketed for during runs, and of those I personally like Sport Beans.  But you don't have to go out and buy something special.  Gummy bears, M&Ms, jelly beans, almonds, all work really well for mid-run fuel. 

And just because you're done running, doesn't mean you're in the clear with giving your body something to work on.  If you've ever run a race, you probably noticed there's usually some form of food available for the runners after the finish line - bananas, bagels, even beer!  I'm on two complete opposite ends of the spectrum for post-run fuel.  Either beer or chocolate milk.  Beer is great in that it provides electrolytes, sodium, and hydration.  Chocolate milk has a protein/carb ratio that helps promote muscle recovery.

So give your body what it needs, because unlike a car, if you run your body into the ground, you can't just run out and get a new one!


  1. You are right! A car needs fuel to run... Humans too. I like the sport gels better but only eat and run when I run more than 30km :D

  2. I ALWAYS eat breakfast before a run, even if I have to get up two hours early to eat it! And I'm big on chocolate milk as post-run fuel. It's the best!