All my life I admired those who could scarf down Chick-fil-a an hour before their race and still manage to PR. I, unfortunately, was not gifted with such a skill. In fact I definitely have the most sensitive stomach out of anyone I know. If you are like me and have trouble finding foods that sit well in your stomach before your run, I would recommend trying some of the meals and snacks I talk about below.
Pre Run Meals and Snacks
The meals listed below I would recommend eating if you plan on eating 2 or more hours before your run:
I have personally found that oatmeal is by far the best pre race or run meal. It digests quickly and doesn’t weigh you down. In high school I hated oatmeal with a passion, but I forced myself to scarf it down on race days because I knew it digested the best for me. Now I genuinely crave oatmeal. Adding a small amount of brown sugar, cinnamon, peanut butter, or berries are perfectly fine and should not irritate your stomach.
2. Toast with Peanut Butter
You might start realizing that all the food on this list are pretty bland. Toast with some peanut butter and maybe banana is a great option before a run. Great source of energy and bland enough to not cause digestion problems.
3. Cereal with Almond Milk
I would recommend a high grain, low sugar cereal. I also recommend a non dairy milk because cow’s milk is a pro inflammatory food and often causes digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
4. Dairy-free Yogurt and Granola
As I just previously mentioned, dairy is a pro inflammatory food which may cause digestive issues before your run. My favorite non-dairy yogurt brands are Forager Project Cashewgurt and So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt.
5. Pesto Quinoa with Peas and Broccoli
This probably sounds odd but this is what I ate for lunch at school everyday before track practice. I cooked up some plain white quinoa, added in some green peas and broccoli, and mixed it with some homemade basil pesto. So if you are in still in high school and not sure what to bring to lunch before practice definitely give this a try!
The next three items I would normally consume if I was planning to run in an hour or less:
Obviously. This is every runners go to. Full or carbs and low in acidity.
5. Energy Bar
My go to pre race energy bars are always Health Warrior Chia Bars and Kind Bars.
6. Crackers & Hummus
This is a good option if you have been at a track meet all afternoon and are looking for something to nibble on between your races.
Post Run Meals & Snacks
Despite what you may have heard, the most important micronutrient to replenish after a run is carbohydrates, not protein. Running is an aerobic exercise, meaning during your run your body is getting its energy through glucose, which are stored mostly in your muscle cells. It is important to replenish the lost glucose stores after a run so that you will have enough to supply you for your next run.
Fruit is actually the best recovery food you can eat. It’s full of antioxidants which help eliminate any bad radicals that may arise when your muscles break down during your run. It is also great for rehydrating your body and replenishing carbohydrates.
What does every runner “carbo-load” with the night before a meet? That’s right, pasta! Pasta is loaded with carbohydrates and is a great dinner or lunch to help you refuel after a long exhausting run.
3. Oatmeal (Yes it just works at all times of the day)
Mmmm I love a big bowl of warm oats after a cold morning run. Oats, for the same reason it’s a good pre run meal, is also a great post run meal. Great source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and yes even a good amount of protein.
Do I even need to explain this one?
5. Rice & Beans
The perfect combo or carbohydrates and protein. Also great sources of vitamins and minerals!
6. Veggie Tofu Scramble
If you are looking for a higher protein meal because you did a more anabolic type of workout I highly recommend a tofu scramble. To make tofu scramble add some nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, and garlic powder to some crumbled up tofu in a skillet. Throw in some cherry tomatoes and spinach for some antioxidants too!
7. Veggie Hash
Ah my favorite weekend brunch meal. Try roasting some sweet potatoes in the oven and then adding some sautéed mushrooms, onion, and spinach to jazz it up. I like to go Mexican themed with mine and top it off with avocado and salsa!