Keep Yourself Fuelled When Running
There is no better way to start your day than with an early morning run. There are less people on the paths, a minimum amount of traffic and it’s nice and quiet. It’s a great way to clear the cobwebs from your weary mind and stay energized throughout the day.
You’ve set out with the best intentions and plan on getting in a good 60-minute run. Then the unthinkable happens. About halfway through you just seem to start losing momentum. Your stomach feels queasy and your legs start to feel like lead.
The most obvious reason for these fatigue like symptoms is probably a lack of energy. Chances are you set out for your run on an empty stomach thinking of having a good breakfast when you get back from your run. That’s all well and good, but running expends a lot of energy and if you haven’t given your body any fuel, that energy won’t be there to fuel your muscles and you’ll start to feel very lethargic.
Don’t let a lack of energy ruin your run, especially as it’s so simple to keep yourself fuelled before and during your run. Here are some great ways to keep yourself fuelled when running, so you don’t run out of steam prematurely.
Have A Pre-Run Snack
You may think running on an empty stomach will trigger your body to start using fat stores for energy. Essentially, this is true. At the same time, the only way your body will start tapping into fat stores is when your calorie intake is lower than your calorie expenditure. Yes, it really is that simple. So if you’re already quite lean, you’re not going to be burning much fat. What’s worse, the lack of food in your stomach may cause the acids in your stomach to rise and that is going to make you feel pretty uncomfortable.
Having a small snack will settle your stomach by absorbing the acids. Furthermore, having that snack about an hour before your run will ensure the fuel is where it’s needed when you do set out. The key is to keep it light. All you need is a little bit of healthy carbs with a protein source. This could be a small ham and cheese sandwich or some apple pieces with peanut butter. Nothing huge, just enough to keep you going. The key is to opt for whole foods whenever possible so choose whole grain breads or crackers if that is your preferred form of carbohydrates.
If you choose to run in the afternoon or evenings, you probably already have enough food in your system to fuel your run. In this case, all you need to do is stay hydrated. A point to consider is that if you are only going for a short run of between 30 to 60 minutes, then you don’t need to consume a huge amount of food and may be able to go the distance with no additional food.
Fuel For The Long Run
Long distance runners have it tough. Running for 2 or more hours can be physically and emotionally draining. That’s when you need a little extra fuel to keep you going as you run. Calorie dense foods are the way to go. You don’t want to fill your stomach and feel sluggish so you want small bites of food that will deliver a huge burst of energy. Stay away from processed sugars. These will deliver a very fast burst of energy, but the energy is depleted as quickly as it is delivered and the post-sugar crash may end your run.
Dried fruits are always a good option. They are small, bite-sized and can fit in a small pocket. Nuts are also a good option but some people find them difficult to chew while running for fear of choking. A small banana is also good as it is easy to eat and you can just take a bite or two as needed. You can also buy energy bars from your local health food store. These are often made from a variety of dried fruits and some have puffed rice or corn in the mix for a little bit of a carb boost as well. If you don’t like the store bought variety, you can always make your own energy bites or bars. Most of the ingredients for these are readily available and you can mix in extras like dark chocolate or tahini for a delicious and fuel delivering pop.
Chocolate Is Your Friend
Very few processed foods are recommended for athletes but one of the best tasting ones is. Chocolate!! Chocolate is the ideal fuel for runners as it is calorie dense, and you can choose dark chocolate which usually has less sugar than milk chocolate. It’s still just as delicious, but you won’t feel the effects of a sugar rush. Some chocolate come in portion sized packages so you can take a couple with you on your run and take a bite when you feel the need for an extra burst of fuel. Chocolate is also great for improving your mood and it may also improve your circulation. All of this will definitely go in your favor as a snack to keep your fuelled when running. Chocolate also contains caffeine which will deliver an additional burst of energy and give you more clarity.
One of the worst things you can do during a run is allow yourself to become dehydrated. This can slow you down considerably and result in you becoming very sluggish. Think about it. Your body consists mainly of water and it is a necessary substance for the health and well-being of your entire body. Your blood also consists of around 90% water and is necessary to deliver oxygen and other nutrients to your muscles. When you start to dehydrate, your blood thickens and this slows down the delivery process to your muscles and other body parts. Not only is this bad for your run, but it could also be dangerous for your health.
Never set out on a run without a water bottle. You can also infuse some fruit into your water for extra flavor and an additional energy boost.