Well, it’s Easter weekend and everyone’s scoffing themselves with chocolate. It’s not the beeest pre-run (or during run) fuel so I thought I’d finally write up my thoughts on what works best for me in terms of running fuel. Obviously, each to their own: if you work well with steak and chips halfway through a marathon, stick to it.
I probably don’t need to list the benefits of fruit and veg – if I do, time to go on Google first. ‘Pre-run’ tends to be synonym for ‘breakfast’ time which is what this list is geared towards. When I did a midnight marathon, it was a little different though the same rough principles applied.
For me, I try combine a variety of (probably high-environmental impact) fruit to get stodge, energy and nutrients to get me through the run: a mix of kiwi (with skin, because I’m weird), blueberries, apples and bananas will do me fine. And, if it’s for a longer run, a dollop of honey or nut butter.
- Nut butters and toast
Mostly because it’s what we store by the metric ton in our cupboard but also because it releases energy slowly and is tasty. Hundreds of brands but we stock up on these ones which you can buy by the kilo (!). We only eat around a pot a month. That’s ok right? Right?
Depending on what your stomach can handle, these are good ways to get energy and hopefully some decent nutrients. Lesson to learn: put too many bananas in a blender and you end up ‘drinking’ cement paste, so best to add some dairy/non-dairy yoghurt/milk or watery fruit
During Run – Gels
I’ve had a few bad experiences of gels which make me want to puke or stop me in my tracks. There’s only one which has never failed: Torq. The flavours all sound a little odd but 50% are amazing, in particular the Rhubarb & Custard (yes) and Apple Crumble ones. Stay clear of the Banoffee one mind you…
Another handy one for the runs – I’m sure there are millions out there but these little chewable … blocks come in packs of 7/8 or so and are self-contained even after you rip the corner off. Strawberry’s best, Mountain Berry’s good. Other flavours… myeah.
As a creature of habit … there are no others I’d risk running with. Bowel movements rule on this one!
During Run – Drinks
A funny one, especially as it looks like you’re drinking tad poles (though that’s good because no one will ever try to share your drink) but it’s a nice drink and also (placebo-effect galore) quite effective. The lemon gives some flavour, the honey gives you a sweet taste and energy and the chia seeds give you various vitamins etc. They don’t look so good when they stay stuck in your moustache or teeth.
More rambling about it here.
- Lucozade & co
Far down the list but there aren’t really that many options out there. Lucozade and equivalents are ok if you’re passing out from exhaustion but I would only use them post run, not during, as it makes my stomach go a bit iffy. Post run, I’d probably also just go for a sugar-filled soft drink or a vitamin-filled smoothie but those aren’t exactly very often in the post-run goodie bags.
Subjectivity of a sponsored person aside, they’re actually very good: easy to carry to races/on runs without getting destroyed in a bag, tasty, vegan, free of refined sugars, filling and full of protein. Dozens of different flavours mean you’re unlikely to get bored any time soon. They will melt at bit if you leave them in full sunshine (as do most things) but, otherwise: top notch.
These ones are probably more appropriate to eat at home: put a flapjack in your running bag and you’ll finish by eating one hundred separated oat flakes. I’m sure there are many many other brands but Holland & Barrett’s ones have a variety of different flavours which seem to work well for me and they’re a decent size too. Plus, there’s a shop round the corner from work so it often helps me get through the worst of a slow day.
- Chocolate (non-dairy) Milk
Not a food but very good for replenishing carbs and protein after a run or race. A thousand websites talk about it but this is the first link on google. The dairy type’s probably ok too so long as your stomach’s ok with dairy!
- Old School formula
Well, yep, old school’s often best. Forget gizmos and just eat whatever seems reasonably healthy (if you’ve done a run of less than 20km) or anything you can get your hands on if it’s more than that. Carbs and fruit are probably the easiest way to summarise what to go for. After that, it’s your choice!
So there. Hope your life has changed with this new-found knowledge…!