Monday, July 21, 2014

the only time I don't want food

Running. I don’t want food before running. I don’t want food during running. And I rarely want food after running. It’s pretty much the only time in my life when I’ll say no to chocolate. 

So when it comes to writing about nutrition and running, I’m stuck. I’ve read many, many articles on the best foods for runners, but the truth is - my body doesn’t want food before it’s forced to endure 6+ miles, and I think listening to your body is the most important thing you can do. 


The most I’ve ever ran is 13.1 miles, so limiting my food intake has never been much of a problem. Before my half marathons, I ate a banana about an hour before the race, and that’s it. During the race, people thrusted all kinds of goo and bars at me, but I graciously turned them down. I grabbed water at every stop along the way, though. 

My first half marathon was around Easter and there were hundreds of Cadbury Egg signs dotting the route. I couldn’t think of anything that I would want less than a creme-filled chocolate egg, and that almost ruined my favorite Easter candy for me {I said almost}. 

At the finish line there were buckets full of apples, oranges and bananas and boxes full of pizza. I ran past both and went straight for the water bottles. There was also free Chick-fil-a for racers, so I went through the line and gave my winnings to the husband {hey, he woke up at 5 a.m. to watch me run}. As for me, I didn’t eat until a couple hours later. I just have to cool down and shower before my appetite returns.


During training, I don’t eat before I run. If my stomach is full, it’s a guarantee I’ll feel sluggish the entire time. I’ve never thrown up a pre-race snack, but I don’t like feeling like I might the whole time. My best friend from high school couldn’t do any type of exercise until after she’d eaten - she just didn’t have the energy. So, to each her own!

Occasionally, I’ll crave fruit while I’m running, but that’s usually a sign that I’m dehydrated. I have a rule that if I run six or more miles, I have to carry a water bottle with me. I hate carrying a water bottle, but I hate being dehydrated even more. 

After my run, I try to shower real quick and get some protein in me as soon as possible. If it’s in the morning, a smoothie or eggs works nicely. If it’s in the evening, I usually have some kind of dinner planned before I head out. 


I realize there’s no way I will be able to run 26.2 miles on an empty stomach and achieve all my goals. The Run Less, Run Faster authors {learn more here} recommend a simple formula for determining how much you should eat before a race, and I recommend you read their section on “Running Nutrition” {and their entire book while you’re at it}. 

(hours before race) x (body weight in pounds) = (number of calories to eat)

So, if I eat about an hour before the race, a large banana would be just about right. 

During the race, the authors suggest you refuel your glycogen stores by drinking 6 - 8 oz of sports drinks every 30 minutes. They even suggest contacting the race to see what they will be serving to make sure it will be okay on your stomach. 

After the race, the authors suggest eating solid, carbohydrate-dense foods like bagels, bananas, pudding {and I assume pizza would work, too} during the first two hours. Eat anything more than 225 grams, though, and the excess will be stored as fat. 

In Conclusion

I’m not a huge fan of sports drinks, but it sounds like I need to start getting used to them for my race on Dec. 10.

Also, I’m not an expert on nutrition, so don’t take my advice as fact. There are tons of resources available online, but I do know it can be confusing discerning what’s true and what’s not. Most importantly, I recommend listening to your body - because you’re body {I said your body not your mind} usually knows best. 

I look forward to seeing what other advice you runners come up with for the Runners Tell All link-up with Beka & Amanda!

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