Every runner has their unique preferences for what they like and what works to fuel them during their runs. This is what’s worked for me.

what-to-eat-before-during-after-running

I’ll start with long runs, since I think those are the trickiest. During marathon training, breakfast was usually toast or a tortilla with peanut butter and sliced banana about 1-2 hours before I started running. On the way to the start line of the marathon, I ate my tortilla, PB & banana “roll up” … it worked well because it was portable.

Of course, I got sick of this combo. Now I have oatmeal, which is what I eat for breakfast every other day of the week. I make mine with plain oats, brown sugar, chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) and dried fruit (cranberries, cherries or dates).

During the long run (or long race), I’ve tried a lot of things:

Luckily for me, everything has agreed with my stomach, so I can just pick what I like based on personal preference, which for me is water + sport beans. I like the more solid fuel because you can eat a few sport beans or one shot blok, and then wrap up the package and put it in your pocket. Putting half of a GU in your pocket sounds like a good way to make a mess. I also really like pretzels during a run, I find that they settle my stomach a little bit. Fig newtons are a bit dry and hard to eat while running.

When I ran my one and only marathon, I carried both pretzels and Clif Shot Bloks (margarita flavor for extra salt). Starting at mile 4 (or maybe it was 6), I took one shot blok every even mile, and then I started eating pretzels every odd mile during the second half of the race. And I took water at almost every water station (during warmer long races, I carry my own water). That seemed to work well for me. I never hit the wall and finished feeling strong. (It helped that I kept my pace very comfortable.) For the half marathon distance, I just stick to 1-2 servings of shot bloks or sport beans, spread out during the second half of the race.

After a long run, I always try to eat something. During marathon training, my CARA group had snacks post-run, so I would eat some pretzels and watermelon, and then drink my own coconut water or chocolate soy milk on the drive home. Once I got home I would stretch, and then eat a normal lunch or breakfast. A lot of times, I had eggs on an english muffin. If I’m at a race, I’ll go for pretty much whatever they have – bagels, bananas, pretzels or chips, granola bars, coconut water, pizza if they have it and beer if my stomach is settled, but I always skip the Gatorade during and after races because I don’t like the taste and I don’t train with it.

During marathon training, my favorite dinner the night before a long run was chicken fajitas. Lots of carbs and protein, plus veggies … and it’s delicious. Not too greasy (compared to other Mexican options), and I skip the cheese and sour cream. It never gave me stomach issues the following morning. I would get it to-go to avoid the temptation of margaritas and endless chips & salsa.

During the week, I usually run after work, so if I’m hungry when I get home, I’ll eat something small – banana with peanut butter, pretzels, fig newtons, or dried fruit like cranberries or dates. Most of my weekday runs are 6 miles or less so I usually don’t eat during the run. When I finish, I’ll usually eat or start making dinner as soon as I get home (before I shower), since by then it’s already after 7pm and I try to go to bed by 9:30.

The only things I’ve regretted eating right before a run is anything carbonated (even seltzer with fruit juice) and chips and guacamole. (Yes, I ate that and went running …. dumb!) And the only thing I’ve regretted for dinner the night before was a lobster roll.

What do you eat before, during and after you runs? What have you regretted eating before or during a run?