Tag Archives: running nutrition

Top 10 Mid-Run Snacks

My marathon training runs are getting a little longer- though still not super long as I’m following the Hanson’s marathon method- and some of my runs are now requiring me to carry some extra emergency fuel, and to practice my nutrition for race day.

I do the majority of my training fasted, as I prefer to get up early and run first thing, and I don’t want to wait around for food to digest. I tend to listen to my body though so if I’m hungry I’ll have a small snack before. At the minute I’m doing my easier runs fasted, and sometimes I’ll head out for longer ones and just start eating on the run, rather than before. For my speed sessions I am having a small snack beforehand, especially now they are getting up over 10 miles. Our bodies use carbohydrates as fuel for higher intensity workouts, so I tend to have a little something to top up my supplies before interval workouts. On longer slower endurance runs are bodies prefer to use fat as a source of fuel, and we should have ample stores to run off, but it is a case of getting your body used to tapping into these stores.

I’ve never been a big fan of gels, and probably other than my first marathon training cycle and race, I’ve tended to avoid them. I’ve played around for years with different food/drink on the run, and found what I like, and what I don’t like. This is what personally works for me but it might not work for you, as it really is quite individual- find a race strategy that works and stick to it. These are my current favourite run snacks:

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1: Snack Bars/Balls: These can be homemade, or shop bought. Homemade are super cheap and you can control what goes in, though shop bought are easier to transport and convenient. I like Nakd bars, Beond bars, or any dried fruit and nut bar, for a quick sugar hit with a little bit of protein and fat. Recently I was sent a box of Go Bites to try out and I used these for quite a few of my training runs, either having a couple before, or during the run. They taste absolutely delicious- I love the Hazelnut chocolate one. The packet contains 3 small energy balls, perfectly bite-size, and great for snacking on during the run. The apricot and seed flavour are not Vegan as they contain honey, but the other two flavours are, they are all gluten free, and filled with natural ingredients.

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2: Dried Fruit: Dates, Apricots, Raisins, Strawberries or fruit leather. Again really easy to transport, quick digesting and cheap. I usually just get a small freezer baggy, or some cling film to wrap them in. Medjool dates are my favourite. I have been known to combine them with a squeezy nut butter pouch for the mid run snack of dreams.

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3: 33 Shake Chia Gels: These are the only “gels” I will use, as I think they are really high quality, and made up of easily recognizable ingredients and they work really well for me. 33 Shake use a simple blend of salts, sugar and chia which I have always found good for a boost before or during a run.

4: Nuts/Nut Butter Pouches: These are good to mix things up from all the sweeter stuff. I like getting salted or tamari roasted nuts, as they give that salty hit. Nut butter pouches are super convenient on the go, Mindful Bites even have one that has a little straw attachment which makes it easy to use.

5: Baby Food: I usually have a good look in the baby section, as they tend to have things based on simple ingredients, and high in easily digestible sugars. Dried fruit bars and squeezy fruit pouches are favorites, these are all cheap and easy to digest options on the run.

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6: Coconut Water/Electrolyte mixes: Sometimes on a longer run, I just like to take some coconut water, the taste of something sweet and a little sugar hit is often enough to keep me going. I do tend to use electrolytes additionally as though coconut water is rich in potassium, it isn’t that high in other vital electrolytes. Right now I’m using Big Tree Farms Coco Hydro Powder, which is dehydrated coconut water powder with added electrolytes, sugar and salt too. I just mix it in my soft flask before I go, or have it once I come back. I like Elete Water too, which are simple electrolyte drops you add to your water.

7: Tailwind: I first used Tailwind on the NDW50, at the time I thought it was just an electrolyte drink, but later realised it also had carbohydrates too which made sense as to why I was able to get round the race having eaten so little, and feeling relatively OK. Really gentle on the digestive tract, and the perfect blend of energy, electrolytes and hydration.

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8: Fruit: Not quite as easy to transport, but a banana is always a safe option in a race pack. Races that give out chopped up fruit are the absolute best- pineapple, watermelon, orange slices are all winners, especially on a hot humid day.

9: Trail Mix: Make up a homemade bag, with a mix of some of the above snacks. Dried fruit, salty nuts, even pretzels would be amazing too. It’s a perfect hit of salty, sweet and savoury.

10: Potatoes: White or Sweet. Roast up some slices/cubes of potato or sweet potato, make sure you salt them really good too. It sounds bizarre, but salty potatoes are one of my absolute favourite snacks, particularly on really long runs.

These are a few of my current favourite run snacks. If I am doing longer stuff and ultra training, I like to pack things like wraps and pittas with nut butter and jam, but I’ll tend to stay away from those for marathon training. I’ve been running for quite a few years and my body has adapted to need less and less food before and on the run, but if you are just starting out, you may need to eat quite a bit before and during runs. As I train fasted quite a bit, I make sure to put a big emphasis on my post-workout nutrition, to replenish my glycogen stores and support my recovery.

What are your favourite run snacks?

 

Disclaimer: I was sent Go Bites for review, all opinions are my own.

What I Eat Before/During a Run

What I eat while on the run has changed a lot since I first got into running all those years ago. When I first started running, I felt like I needed a lot more fuel on runs, and would take snacks out on shorter runs and always had to eat before running.

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I feel like my body has adapted to my higher mileage, and years of training so I have got to the point where I don’t necessarily need to eat anything before runs, or during either. My rule of thumb is listening to my body, if I am hungry when I wake up I will have something small beforehand like some dates or a homemade energy bar, but if not then I’ll just get up and go. I prefer to do the majority of my weekly mileage in a fasted state, mostly because I prefer getting up and going straight out rather than waiting for something to digest. For pretty much anything under 12-13 miles I am happy to just get out and go, but this really can depend on what I’ve eaten the day before, how far I’ve run the day before or if I have weight trained, or even hormones during stages of my cycle which affect my appetite too. If I know I’m going to be doing around 12 miles and heading out early without time to eat beforehand (ie. parkrun long run sandwich) then I will try and eat a bit later the night before and have a small bowl of oats or something similar in the evening before I go to bed.

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For longer runs I will tend to have some oats, chia seeds and nut butter for breakfast and wait a 1 1/2-2 hours before running. Sometimes with longer runs if I don’t have time I just head straight out and then eat on the run. I don’t do this regularly though, and it really is just if I’m really short on time and have to be up super early for a long run anyway. I haven’t noticed any adverse effects from doing this in terms of how I feel on the run or recovery. If anything I’ve had some of my best runs while doing them in this fasted state and I have much less digestive issues later on during longer runs.

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So what do I like to eat on the run? I’ve never been a big fan of gels or anything like that, I just find them sickly sweet and likely to upset my stomach or make me feel sick. In the past I’ve used a lot of dates/nakd bars or similar which are two things I still really like to use. I also like to use 33Shake’s chia gels, they are kind of like chia pudding, made up of just chia seeds, coconut sugar and Himalayan salt in a pouch which you add water too and shake together, I find they work really well for me.

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I also like savoury snacks to mix things up, roasted and salted almonds, pretzels or tamari roasted cashews are favourites. Lately on my longer runs I’ve been taking out pittas/tortilla wraps filled with nut butter and jam, to practice race day eating, these have worked really well, but I was getting some weird looks running along the street while nibbling on a pitta. I also like pre-cooked sweet potato/potatoes, I took some in my pack for the SDW50 last year, and though they were totally mushy by half way, they did make a change from the sweeter stuff. Nut butter sachets are also really handy, Pip and Nut’s sachets are great, but recently I’ve really been into Mindful Bites nut butter sachets, the texture is really good for while on the run and the sachets have kind of a straw feature to them so they are easier to use.

I would say especially for longer stuff go with whatever you fancy during the run and what works best for you personally, but it’s important to have tested out your nutrition strategy and eating on the run prior to race day. I’ve had issues in the past when using things like shot blocks and clif bars on runs which have not agreed with me at all, I’ve either felt really ill or got a stitch from them, so I tend to avoid them now, but I know they work fine for lots of people.

I have found I need a lot less than I did previously as my body has adapted to running longer mileage. I tend to have my first snack whenever I feel a little peckish- usually somewhere between 8-9 miles, then I’ll just have a nibble of something every couple of miles, it can take me 5-6 miles to get through a nakd bar, but again I try and go with how I’m feeling and whether I feel I need a bit of a boost. I prefer having smaller bits, as it sits better with my digestion, rather than shoving loads in at one time, and I feel like it’s a slow drip of energy throughout the run.

I always pack quite a lot of food for races, and find I am still carrying most of it at the end unopened, so for my ultra next weekend I am going to pack a lot less. I know from doing a Centurion race before, I will be able to get plenty of vegan friendly stuff- from trail mix, fresh fruit to peanut butter wraps/sandwiches, so I will pack a few things I fancy, and then take an empty freezer bag which I can load up with food at the aid stations, and snack on while I’m walking up those endless hills! My pack is quite small- Ultimate Direction Jenny pack- so I need to be quite selective with what I take, as there is a required kit list, and water takes up most of the space anyway, I’ll be packing things that are a a bit different to what’s on offer at aid stations and a few things I think I will fancy on the day to help me get through the miles.

I will do another post soon about what I like to eat after runs, so keep an eye out for that.

Favourite running foods for before/during runs?