With the Sioux Falls Marathon weekend, and many other fall races coming up, runners are thinking more about how to optimize their training runs and races. Specifically, many ladies have asked about what to eat before their runs to give them the most energy and leave them feeling good throughout their entire run.
My recommendations really depend on what time you run, how long the run is, what intensity the run is (speed work, marathon pace run, easy run, long slow distance), and what foods you can tolerate.
Early Morning Runner
If you're running under an hour or doing an easy run, most runners don't need an extra snack for those morning runs. You might want to eat a carbohydrate-rich snack is:
-You're doing a key workout, such as a speed workout, fartlek, race pace run, etc.
-You're run is on the longer size (over 60-90 minutes)
-You woke up hungry!
Every stomach is different, but you should have 15-60 minutes (at least!) before your run to eat a snack. If you try eating something, and your stomach can't handle it, try giving yourself more time.
For those days when you need a small snack, grab an easily-digestible snack that you know will sit well with you. Some go-to snacks for shorter workouts or if you have less time to digest include:
-1/2 or full banana with peanut butter
-Handful of raisins or cereal
-Tablespoon or 2 of nut butter
-Granola bar or oatmeal balls (see recipe below!)
Longer Run Fuel
If you have a little more time to digest (over an hour) and you're going out for a longer run (>60-90 minutes), you might want something more substantial, such as:
-Toast or bagel with peanut butter and/or jam/honey
-Oatmeal with banana and handful of nuts
-Yogurt with granola and berries
-Baked sweet potato with nut butter
Remember - you have to find what works for you! Practice eating breakfast before some of your runs, because just as you have to train your legs to run race pace sometimes, you have to train your stomach to be able to tolerate food and fluids if you know you'll be eating something on race day.
Your fueling strategy will change from day to day. For instance, you might roll out of bed and have nothing before an easy run under an hour, have a couple energy balls before your speed workout, and have a full breakfast before most of your long runs.
Check out these easy recipes for energy balls, grab 2 of these to eat before a run - if you wake up hungry, know you'll get hungry during your run, or have some speed work...these are easy to grab and eat with your morning coffee on the way to meet your BRFs! :)
No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites
from: Gimme Some Oven
TOTAL TIME: 10 MINS
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 0 MINS
1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or vegan chocolate chips)
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
2. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.*
3. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.)
4. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Makes about 20-25 balls.
*Prep time listed does not include time for the mixture to chill. To speed up the chilling, I recommend spreading the mixture out on a baking sheet, then covering it with plastic wrap and refrigerating.
5 Ingredient Peanut Cup Energy Bites (with dates!)
from: Minimalist Baker
Prep time 15 mins
Total time 15 mins
1 cup (~220 g) dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain well)
3 Tbsp all-natural salted peanut or almond butter
1/4 cup dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp chia seeds (or sub flax or hemp seeds)
2/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
Pulse dates in a food processor or blender until they’re in small pieces or it forms a ball (see photo).
Add oats, chocolate, chia seeds and peanut butter and pulse or mix until combined. You want there to be consistently small pieces but not overly processed.
Carefully roll into 1-inch balls (29-30 grams per ball), using the warmth of your hands to mold them together. Should yield 14-15 balls.
To set, pop in fridge or freezer for 15 minutes. Otherwise, eat as is! Will keep fresh in an air-tight bag or container for up to a week. Freeze for longer term storage.
I hope you enjoy these tips and have some awesome runs this August!