Nutrition for running more than an hour


We usually ask ourselves should I eat before a long run or race? Should I have supplements during the run? What food do I eat after a race?


There is no perfect meal to fit everybody, depending on your size and speed, but some foods work well for everyone if eaten at the correct times to perform better, have more strength during the run, and feel better after.


BEFORE RUN


It would be best to eat a small meal before a long run or before a race starts 1.5-2 hours.


The best before-race meals are high in carbs, low in fat, and low in fiber, with a bit of protein. Carbs are an energy source, and fat slows digestion (you don't want to digest your energy slowly just before a race), but do not overeat.


A bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with milk and dried fruit, yogurt and toast, bananas, or granola bars are great pre-run foods. Avoid foods rich in fiber (including fruits with skins, such as apples and pears) to avoid bowel movements right before (and during) your run.


DURING THE RUN



Rather than running distance, running duration is the essential factor to consider when choosing whether or not to eat during a run. When you run for under 60 minutes, most of your energy comes from stored muscle glycogen. When you run for longer than 60 minutes, stored muscle glycogen gets depleted.

When stored glycogen stores are low, the sugar in your blood and liver glycogen becomes more critical. Fueling with carbohydrate foods and beverages during your longer runs will prevent you from running out of energy and help boost your performance.


During the run, you can take supplements such as sports drinks or gels. Sports drinks provide carbs, and Gels tend to be high in sugar, so the body goes up and down on sugar and needs water to wash them down.


At the end of a run, we need to level the sugar levels going up and down. If we want to avoid big spikes in blood sugar, then during the run is best to only have thirds of a pack at a time rather than the entire packet.


AFTER RUN


After the long run you’ll be tired, sweaty, and exhilarated, but your body will have one priority – recovery. So help yourself on the road to recovery by eating and drinking with this in mind.


Your post-run recovery meals and snacks should consist of carbohydrates and plenty of protein. Enjoy whatever you fancy, but do try to get a decent serving of protein. Meat, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu...



Protein is essential to have after runs because it builds and repairs muscles. Long runs can cause micro-tears in muscle tissue, and protein helps repair any tears.


Carbohydrates are essential for refueling glycogen stores that become depleted on long runs. Blood sugar will drop during long runs; carbs help bring sugar levels up.


It's essential to include both protein- and carbohydrate-loaded foods like whole-grain bread or cereals, fruits, vegetables, eggs, lean meats, or a vegetable protein in your post-run meals. Also, eat as soon as you can after finishing your run, preferably within 20 minutes but don't wait longer than 2 hours. If you feel like you just can't eat after a run, try drinking your nutrition with a protein shake.


Here are some excellent post-run food options that include both protein and carbs:

  • Greek yogurt, banana, and berries

  • Low-fat chocolate milk and some fruit such as oranges

  • Cereal and milk

  • Bagel with protein, like an egg, and a latté

  • Pretzels and hummus (the salt tastes so good!)

  • Baked potato with avocado and seeds

  • Pasta and meatballs

  • Rice with spinach, nuts, and eggs

Be Health. Be Well. Fuel to Run better, more efficiently and stronger, and Have Fun!


Raquel Stanton

Running Coach

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