Disclaimer: the information contained here was obtained through research. No professional nutritionist was consulted at any time. So in other words, don’t assume I know what I’m talking about.
If you’re anything like me, nailing down the perfect food to fuel your run is a bit of a mystery. Having the patience of, well, NOTHING, I find myself getting that glazed look in my eyes whenever navigating the mountains of information available on the topic. Good carbs, bad carbs, simple and complex carbs, animal protein, protein for vegetarians, mono-unsaturated fat, poly-unsaturated fat, Mickey fat, Minnie fat, Goofy fat, Eeyore is fat, just make it STOP!!
So before the dollars whipping around in my brain actually explode and the hubs is left to clean up the mess, I decided to break it down into the simplest terms and what works best for me.
1. Carbs – this is probably the easiest. Carbs=energy. Energy is GOOD. This is also my fave as I seem to have discovered that, all genetic evidence to the contrary, I really do have a little Italian person hiding inside me. One who loves pasta. No, I mean LOVES pasta. I can down a plate of spaghetti so fast you’d never even know it was there. Like Dashiell Parr Incredibles fast.
Cereal (Cheerios yay!), bread, rice (love me some Uncle Ben), and potatoes, fit the bill for your body’s energy needs. Watch out for the Carb Monster though – too many carbs, especially at lunch time, does not a productive afternoon for this Black Dog make.
2. Protein – always a bit of a challenge for this fledgling vegetarian, good protein sources can be found in meat, eggs, beans, and nuts. Flatulence factor aside, (and how many of us have been unlucky enough to get stuck behind that one guy who decided to have a bean burrito for breakfast on race day?), proteins are the building blocks of muscles and tendons. No protein makes for a pretty funny looking runner.
In my humble opinion, peanut butter is one of the world’s perfect foods. Right behind ice cream. Hand me a jar of creamy Skippy or Peter Pan peanut butter and I will swear to you my undying allegiance until the end of time. Or at least until the next person who happens along with a bigger jar.
3. Fat – just the sound of the word makes many tremble in their shoes. Not this girl! And as a runner, neither should you. Yes, you. No, the other guy. Yeah, that guy. The human body would cease to operate efficiently if it was never provided with fat. It just depends on what KIND of fat. Thankfully, there is a very simple way to figure it out. If it melts on the kitchen counter, you’re good. If not, not so much. Butter, what I like to call fake butter, that butter-like substance you get on movie popcorn that I’m sure would survive a nuclear war, lard, fried food – all bad. Olive oil, avocado, fish oils – all good. It doesn’t mean you can go out and eat a gallon of guacamole, but a little dab will do ya.
Finding the perfect pre-run, pre-race, pre-gym, pre-God-please-tell-me-why-I-have-to-get-out-of-bed-at-oh-dark-thirty meal, can only be found by trial and error. Whether I’m running a morning half or the Wine and Dine, a bagel and Skippy works perfectly for this chica. A nice mix of pasta and what the hubby likes to call mystery meat (soy protein), the night before a morning race also provides the ideal mix of carbs, fats, and proteins. Gone seems to be the old idea that a giant bowl of pasta the night before was the perfect thing to do. Add in some protein and a salad with olive oil and you’re good to go. It’s all just finding what works best for YOU.
Now, I know there’s some rock stars out there who can stay up all night, show up at the start line reeking of beer, have melted chocolate from a snarfed down Snickers bar smushed across their face, and end up placing in their age groups. REALLY?!? My suggestion: following that particular line of pre-race fueling MAY not be the way to go. I don’t know. Just sayin’…
Enjoy the ride.
How do you fuel for a race or workout?