Running update: Nutrition

As I’ve trained for my first 10k (a fee days away!), I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I can handle. I know I will be able to finish a 10k and (slowly) run most of it. Once a week I go on a longer run than the last. To keep energized during runs that last more than an hour, planning for nutrition and hydration are important.

To be fully prepared and keep my body in top shape, I’ve started to really focus on nutrition and fuel before and after my runs. Being a vegetarian, I’m already aware of nutrients and vitamins my body needs, but now I’m focusing on what I should eat when to maximize my running ability and stay healthy.

One friend let me borrow Olympic runner Jeff Galloway’s Book on Running. I bought the book Thrive, which is written by a vegan athlete and tells how to achieve better results and nutrition with a plant-based diet. In addition to the books, I’ve found the blogs No Meat Athlete and Plant Runner. Runner’s World has a page for vegetarian runners featuring recipes and tips and the Vegetarian Resource Group has a Sports Nutrition page. I’ve been busy training for my 10k and other life things that have popped up, so unfortunately I haven’t devoted much time to looking into these books and websites beyond poking around.  But in the next few weeks, it’s at the top of my list.

For now, beyond reading articles, I’m focusing on eating the right kinds and amount of food and drinking the right amount of water before and after runs. I’ve experimented with homemade energy bar recipes (here, here and here). Before a run I usually have one of these or a banana, sometimes with peanut butter and (especially for longer runs or when I’m hungry) sometimes on a bagel.

After a short run I will have an orange. Something about being dehydrated, the citrus is so refreshing and juicy and sweet. But many times, especially after longer runs, I have a smoothie. Smoothies are great because you can throw whatever you have that sounds good together, but my go-to smoothie is pretty simple. I put flax and chia seeds in the bottom, two large handfuls of spinach in, a banana and coconut water or filtered water until covered. Blend, taste and if it needs more sweetness (or I can taste the spinach) I usually add a little vanilla extract and/or agave until desired sweetness. If it’s too thick, I just add more water until it’s the consistency I want.

I can tell how little things make a big difference in my performance, and food and drink are no exception. Fellow runners, what do you eat to fuel yourself and what resources do you use?