5 Whole Foods to Fuel Your Run

whole foods nutrition for running

You guys!

I have officially signed up for the LA Marathon in March and I am PUMPED to be training again. I took a two-year marathon hiatus after a few injuries led me to feel burned out and defeated. In the time off, I enjoyed fitness in a variety of forms and most importantly in moderation. Coming from the world of Ironman triathlons and marathons, moderation doesn't always come easy, but it was certainly a much needed period of rest and recovery. Then, something recently started tugging at me to get back in the game. What I love most about training for endurance events is how the drive and work ethic spills over into every aspect of my life. Whenever I am pushing my physical limits, I feel inspired and motivated in every possible way. I've started to build that momentum again and it feels so good!

Training for endurance sports is how I originally became so fascinated by nutrition. How you fuel totally makes a difference! One thing I've learned is I feel SO much better when I consume whole foods instead of packaged gels and sugary sports drinks while training. Below I will share my top 5 foods for fueling my run life. 

I would love to hear what yours are! Please share in comments so I can try them out while training!

XO - Megan

teff a nutritious food for endurance athletes

Teff

Teff has been fueling endurance runners in ethiopia for years. This little gluten free grain is a nutritional powerhouse for runners. It gets a boost over other whole grains due to its high content of lysine, the amino acid touted with maintaining muscle mass. Teff is also relatively low on the glycemic index, meaning it will keep your blood sugars stable when eaten before a long run.

Pro Tip: bring 1/3 cup teff to a boil with 1 cup water and simmer for 15 minutes (or until water has boiled out). Top with honey, cinnamon and walnuts and enjoy as a hot breakfast porridge before a morning run.

coffee with hazelnut milk

coffee

I never leave home for a run without first caffeinating. Hundreds of studies have shown time and again that caffeine can boost physical performance, helping subjects go farther and faster than when they go without. Coffee can also help get the pipes moving in the morning, preventing the need for a mid-run bathroom break. Just be sure not to drink to much which can leave you jittery and negatively effect performance. 8-12 ounces should do the trick.

Pro Tip: Pre-set your coffee maker the night before so the sound of percolating coffee and smell of java entices you out of bed for those early morning runs. I serve mine with a splash of homemade hazelnut milk and look forward to it so much, I pop out of bed happily to enjoy it :)

dates are the perfect food for fueling a long run

dates

On those long 15-20 mile runs, instead of sickly sweet gels that never fail to leave me running to the bathroom, I reach for dates. Dates are high in the simple natural sugars the body needs during long bouts of endurance exercise. They also contain a surprising amount of potassium which will keep muscle cramps at bay.

Pro Tip: If you don't have a finicky digestive system, fill a few Medjool dates with almond butter and carry with you on a long run. Pop one about every 30-45 minutes on runs lasting longer than 90 minutes. The carbohydrates from the dates along with the small amount of protein from the almond butter will keep you going longer and harder.

watermelon

watermelon

This hydrating fruit makes for the perfect rehydration food. Watermelon is about 92% water and 6% natural sugar, making it thirst quenching and replenishing when glucose (sugar) stores are low. Watermelon also contains a high lycopene content, an anti-inflammatory carotenoid that gives the fruit its beautiful red color. Fight off inflammation, rehydrate and restore after a run with this nourishing fruit.

Pro Tip: Fill your water bottle with my Homemade Watermelon Sports Drink (recipe coming tomorrow!) when your runs last longer than 75 minutes. 

Kale salad

kale

After a run, recovery is key. As runners, we undergo a lot of oxidation, especially as we up our miles. This oxidative stress can produce free radicals that lead to inflammation. Do you know any runners that live on aspirin or ibuprofen to keep their inflammation at bay? Well, there is a way to reduce inflammation without popping pills, and, your guessed it, it is through your diet. To fight inflammation and replenish nutrients lost while pounding the pavement, fruits and veggies are your key to a fast recovery and staying injury free. 

Pro Tip: Include a huge bowl of kale in your long-run recovery meal to get the phytochemicals and antioxidants your body needs to fight inflammation. Need an idea for how to enjoy kale? Check out our Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing or any of our other anti-inflammatory packed salad recipes.

Let me hear those suggestions from you!! Go team!