Welcome to this month’s edition of the Run It series! Each month, running bloggers share their tips and glimpses into their running – and this month, we are excited to welcome Sandra from Organic Runner Mom!
If you ask any given runner what they eat, you will receive a wide array of answers: the “if the oven is hot enough, it can burn everything” philosophy; strict diets such as keto, Paleo, vegan, or gluten-free; or balanced diets focusing on nutritious foods with some treats. This month’s Run It gives you a glimpse into what runners eat from the perspective of runners.
My approach to eating as a runner is simple:
- I eat mostly high-quality, nutritious foods, as minimally processed as possible.
- I don’t restrict any food group. Yes, I try to minimize my sugar consumption – but I will also enjoy a chocolate chip cookie or donut from time to time. I eat dairy, gluten, grains, meat, legumes – all the foods that some diet out there restricts.
- How much I eat is based on how much I run.
- I eat for athletic performance, health, and pleasure.
With each of these posts, please remember that these are individual examples of what a runner eats – not a prescription of what you must eat as a runner. You will likely notice some patterns, but you will also seem individual differences.
I’m an early riser and runner (awake at 5 AM to 5:30 AM, running by 7:30 AM), so I do not like to eat a lot before my run – but I also don’t want to go into a run on empty. About an hour to ninety minutes before I run, I will have a banana, cup or two of black coffee, and water.
I eat as soon as I return home from my run, I eat breakfast. Most days of the week, I have oatmeal with an egg whisked in and topped with fruit and peanut butter. Since it’s fall, I’m really enjoying pumpkin oats with chopped up apples, both for the taste and the extra volume that the pumpkin and apple add (I’m hungry after my runs during marathon training!). I’ll often have a cup of Earl Grey tea after my run as well, especially if it was rainy or cold.
I try to eat as many vegetables as I can at lunchtime and usually include some leafy greens. My usual lunch options include hearty salads, vegetable soups with a side of homemade sourdough bread, or random bowls such as the pictured lentil, potato, kale, and tahini bowl.
To make sure I am eating enough protein and calcium, I opt for plain Greek yogurt for my daily afternoon snack. If it’s a lighter training day, I eat it plain with a sprinkle of cinnamon. If I ran over an hour or I am really hungry, I will add in some oats, seeds, and/or fruit.
I follow a basic formula for dinner most nights: lean protein, starchy carbs, 1-2 servings of seasonal vegetables, and some sort of healthy fat.
Baked potatoes are one of my favorite dinners during marathon training: potatoes are rich in nutrients such as fiber and potassium and provide easily digestible starchy carbs. I’ll add chicken breast, a couple servings of vegetables (olive oil roasted butternut squash and green beans), and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on the potato for some fat.
Another common dinner in our household is some sort of grain bowl: stirfry, burrito bowls, burger bowls, etc. I will use farro or brown rice as a base, cook a lot of vegetables, add lean protein (usually chicken or grass-fed beef), and top with a tahini sauce, avocado, or other sauce for flavor.
I don’t eat perfectly “clean” or “healthy” or whatever you want to call it. I have some fair trade dark chocolate every day – the darker, the better – and one glass of red wine or craft/homebrew beer. I’ll be honest: I am high-strung and both the drink itself and the ritual of sitting back to have a drink with my husband helps me relax.
Beyond a daily basis, I let myself indulge in my favorite foods. We usually make homemade pizza once per week. On the weekends, I’ll let myself have two drinks. Donuts and homemade chocolate chips cookies make their appearances every few weeks. I revel in eating a burger with salty fries and washing it down with a craft beer. I don’t do eat these foods often, but when I do I savor every bite.
For more on what a runner eats, check out the posts from the other ladies in the Run It Round-up!
You can find past posts from the Run It Round Up here:
Favorite Marathon and Half Marathon Workouts
Mental Workouts for Runners
Surviving Summer Running
Summer Hydration Tips
Treating Common Running Injuries
Best & Worst Racing Advice
Staying Sane on the Treadmill
Winter Running Gear
How do you eat to fuel your running?
Which meal of the day is your favorite?