Fueling Your Run: Tips for Kids
When it comes to fueling properly to prepare for your run and for recovery from your runs, there is a lot of information out there, much of which makes fueling seem super complicated. When it comes down to it, however, fueling doesn’t have to be complicated. Although proper nutrition is one of the most important things for a female runner, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! Here, I am going to share some of my favorite ways to fuel and some tips I’ve learned about eating from my own experience- but remember, if you’re curious about the best way to fuel YOUR body for your runs, contact a registered dietitian!
Let’s start with pre-run. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is running with nothing in your system. What that “something” is can vary based on the person and what their bodies tolerate best, but even if it’s just a few handfuls of cereal, your body needs nutrients to perform at its best. Running on an empty stomach will not only leave you drained and hungry during your run but will prevent the early stages of post-run recovery from happening.
Some of my favorite ways to fuel up before a run, race or workout are listed below.
2-3 HOURS BEFORE:
- A big bowl of oatmeal: oatmeal is great because it is super customizable. There is sure to be some variety you like! I like to add a mashed banana, fresh fruit, granola, honey, and cinnamon. You can add anything from nuts to peanut butter and really make it your own.
- A loaded PB&J: One of the easiest things on my stomach pre-run is toast. My favorite is what I called an “elevated PB&J”, which is basically just peanut butter, fresh berries, sliced banana and honey in between two slices of bread. It’s easy to digest and has the carbohydrates I need to get me through the run!
30 MINUTES BEFORE:
- A banana and peanut butter (or nut butter): again, something my body digests well and it keeps me satisfied during a run or workout.
- Any type of granola bar/energy waffle: a quick burst of carbs for when I’m on the go!
- A rice cake with either peanut butter or guacamole. Not as heavy as the toast option, but still a quick and tasty snack to fuel up.
Next is post-run. In my opinion, this is the most critical meal/snack for female runners because whatever you are eating here is what your body is using to recover from your run and repair muscle. Getting that fuel in immediately after you finish running is crucial, even if it’s just a small snack before you make it to dinner.
15-30 MINUTES AFTER:
- Chocolate milk! No surprise here- with protein, sugars and fat, chocolate is one of the best recovery tools in the book. Any type of liquid calories is always awesome post-run, especially if you aren’t starving yet. This can come in the form of a smoothie; protein shake or Gatorade. Try to choose an option with some protein.
- A cheese stick and fruit. Another good option if you’re not super hungry. The cheese has protein and fats needed to help you recover and the fruit will replace some of the sugars and electrolytes you sweat out.
BIG MEALS AFTER:
Although your big meal post-run is crucial, there are no specific guidelines that NEED to be followed as long as you are covering your food groups. I like to look at my plate and make sure I have a major carbohydrate source (pasta, rice, bread), a protein source (eggs, chicken, steak, beans), and a vegetable or fruit. Some of my favorites include:
- A Mexican bowl: Brown rice, steak, fajita veggies, black beans, salsa, and sour cream.
- Pasta bowls: Grilled chicken and broccoli over a bowl of spaghetti with olive oil.
- Breakfast sandwiches: An egg scramble with peppers, onions, ham, and spinach in between a whole grain bagel with a side of fruit.
Those are some of the meals and snacks that have me feeling my best on my runs and recovering well after. As I mentioned, everyone tolerates foods differently, so experiment with which types of snacks sit well in your stomach before runs. Aside from food, drinking water and electrolyte drinks during the day is crucial for all types of runners. The idea is to constantly be replacing everything your body is losing during exercise, so it continues to perform at its best. If you’re feeling hungry, thirsty or fatigued, it usually means your body is missing something. Listen to your body and give it what it needs to succeed. Stay conscious of the above tips next time you’re planning your run! Good luck and happy running.
Bucknell University Class of 2022
B.S. Cell Biology/Biochemistry
Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country