Wednesday Wisdom: Don’t Run On Empty!

Hey everyone!  If you read my post last Wednesday, you know I’m working on how to properly fuel my body for my ever-growing long runs.  Fueling during a long run is important, but so is what you put into your body before and after you run!  So here’s part two of my advice on fueling: how to fuel before and after your runs!


Running a long run is impossible if you haven’t eaten correctly before your run.  Even on my shorter runs I occasionally feel a bit off, and sometimes it’s because of the way I’m fueling my body before and after my runs.  I know that food is fuel, yet sometimes I choose something that my body doesn’t need which can cause a run to go bad really quickly.  I used to think that a great post-race food was donuts since most of my runs completely burn off all the donut calories (you’ve all done it, don’t lie), but what I forgot is that donuts contain empty calories and really aren’t refueling my body and helping me recover quickly.  So what should runners be eating before and after running?  Like last week, I have some articles here with great suggestions on how to properly fuel before running and re-fuel once you’re done!  Obviously every body is different and every runner out there needs different things to completely refuel their bodies, but these articles have many great suggestions to guide you in the right direction.

Before a Run:

  • This article from has a great list of what items are best to eat based on how much time you have left before your run.  Here are some of my favorite suggestions!  If you have 30-60 minutes, go for a bowl of cereal (such as Special K or Rice Krispies – something low in fiber and made with simple carbs).  If you have 60-90 minutes, try an instant oatmeal packet (my fav!) or hummus with carrots.
  • This article from US News was written by a runner and there’s a long list of foods to eat before running based on what type of run you’re doing.  Going for a short run (under 1 hour)?  Eat a banana, half a Clif Bar, or an english muffin with jelly.  Going to be running over 1 hour?  Eat 1 cup of whole wheat pasta, greek yogurt, or 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 2 tbs. nut butter.  The article has way more food options, plus the amounts of carbs in each snack listed so that you can plan your snacks correctly.
  • I really liked this article from FitSugar, which has a handy little chart for planning your pre-run fuel from 2 hours up to 15 minutes, plus it lists foods to avoid eating.  That’s super helpful!  Did you know you should avoid eating apples, granola, and energy bars right before running?  I think I’m going to print this chart out so that I can remember these ideas for next time!

chipotlerunI love Chipotle but yeah, don’t do it!

After a Run:

  • Here’s another article from US News on how to refuel after running.  It’s got options for post-run meals, such as a turkey or chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta with sauce and lean meat, or scrambled eggs (I didn’t know about that one!).  If you’re not able to eat one of those meals within 30 minutes of your run – which I’m almost never able to do – you can refuel with chocolate milk, a protein shake, or a banana with nut butter.
  • I’m loving this article from because it not only gives advice on what to eat before and after a morning run, it gives post-run fuel recipes!  Check it out for recipes for high protein pancakes, a breakfast sundae, and a sweet sandwich!
  • And no Wednesday Wisdom post would be complete without an article from Runner’s World!  This article is specific to the type of running workout you did and gives tips on why you may be hungry after each run and what you need in order to feel better.  I like their tips for people who run after dinner (like me!) and their yummy suggestions of graham crackers and peanut butter as a post-run/pre-bedtime snack.

It’s good to know that some of the foods that I eat before or after running are approved as good fuel!  Unfortunately donuts didn’t make any lists, so I guess I’ll have something a bit healthier  🙂

20130929-145316.jpgDonuts from the Fractured Prune in Rehoboth Beach, DE after FINALLY breaking 30 minutes at the Corn to Run 5k!  Sometimes I make refueling mistakes.  And sometimes you just really need a hot donut!

What are your go-to snacks before and after your runs?  I would love some suggestions for healthy pre/post run snacks!  And just for fun – what is the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten after a run?

17 thoughts on “Wednesday Wisdom: Don’t Run On Empty!

  1. I love to wake up before a run and eat two pieces of toast or an english muffin with peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Post run I’m not so good and sometimes fall victim to that tasty donut…

    1. I’m so glad there are other people out there who can’t resist donuts! I can totally stay away from donuts, cake, etc. but not donuts! But on a serious note, I definitely think anything with peanut butter is a great pre-run option!

  2. What you eat after a race and what you eat after a run are very different as far as I’m concerned! I’ve never eaten anything crazy post run, but after a triathlon I will plow my way through whatever it is I’m craving regardless of caloric or nutritional content. I’ve burned as many as 3000 calories in a tri before, so I feel I deserve fettucini alfredo and chicken fingers dang it!

    1. Haha sooooo true! Those donuts were a post-race treat, but I can’t remember ever eating a donut after a regular run.

  3. DEFINITELY an important topic to talk about and work out [literally] before the race day comes. If you’ve never tried bearded brothers bars you should check them out. They are my favorite fuel for big runs/races/workouts.

    1. I will definitely check those out! I’m going to need something pretty awesome for my upcoming half marathon (especially since it starts at 5:30 am!)

  4. I am all about the banana and peanut butter for my runs. Sometimes I have a green smoothie before my long runs. After my runs, I love to get some protein with plain nonfat greek yogurt and berries. Maybe we will get a long run into together one day since you aren’t too far! 🙂

    1. We totally should! I’ve never done a long run with another person, I’m sure it helps a lot! And yeah, banana and peanut butter are basically my food BFFs since I started running!

    1. It’s definitely tough! I fell like I only notice when things don’t work as good fuel because they make my stomach hurt or make me feel super dizzy and tired if they’re not enough to get me through the workout. I’m glad I was able to find so many suggestions because I’m sure a lot of them will work for me!

  5. Fuel is so important! I can usually get away with 1/2 to a whole protein bar of some kind (lately it’s been Picky Bars) for weekday runs, but my long run definitely needs more (whole wheat toast, peanut butter & a banana). My favorite post-long run treats are smoothies (but only in the summer – too cold right now!) and bacon, egg, and cheese on salt bagel sandwiches. Soo not really good for me, but soo tasty.

    1. I’ve never tried Picky Bars, I’ll have to look into that! And I loooove breakfast sandwiches after a run! What is up with me and breakfast foods?

  6. Before a run, I’ll eat a Nutrigrain bar or a banana. After a run, I don’t discriminate and eat whatever I want lol! For some reason, after long races (like 1/2 marathons) I crave a bacon cheese burger. Always. It’s so weird.

    1. For some reason I never thought about Nutrigrain bars! I love those! I also like the Trader Joe’s versions (This ____ Walked Into A Bar) so I’ll have to try that. And the bacon cheeseburger thing is awesome! When you run that far you can totally handle that kind of post race snack!

  7. Omygosh, I knew that donut looked familiar! I love Fractured Prune! Luckily I only go to DE/ MD beaches once a year. I want to do one of the Dewey races this summer! After a color run, the first thing I ate were olives out of a bloody mary..does that count? 🙂

    1. That is awesome! I am obsessed with the Fractured Prune! I always buy the kids’s meal which is 2 donuts and milk served to you on a frisbee! I have no idea who would let their kids eat that much but whatever, I’ll keep buying it! I’m only there a few times per year but my parents live less than an hour from the one in Lancaster so I go there sometimes too!

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