My Favorite Running Food

Posted on May 14, 2014

I started running a little over a year ago. I quickly learned that what you eat right before, and right after, a run makes a world of difference. Though I’m still learning and experimenting with running food, here are my favorite things so far:

  1. Oats. I first fell in love with oatmeal as a cyclist. I now eat it a big bowl every morning for breakfast. A large bowl will get me started on a 30+ mile bike ride or a long run. Energy bars and granola made with oats also gives me a huge energy boost midway through a bike ride (I have yet to try it while running, though).
  2. Bananas. I sometimes joke that I eat as much local food as I can to make myself feel less guilty about the number of bananas that I eat. Bananas are perfect for runners, though. It gives you a burst of energy before a run, and it’s easy to carry to work or on the road. Plus bananas have a ton of potassium, which helps prevent leg cramps.
  3. Peanut Butter. And I’m not talking about just any peanut butter. I’m obsessed with the freshly ground peanut butter that you can get at places such as Whole Foods. Unlike the jar peanut butter you can get at any grocery store, this peanut butter has one ingredient: ground peanuts. It’s an excellent pre-run or post-run snack, and it’s an excellent source of protein. I love it on toast, celery, apples, or sometimes I’ll just eat it right out of the container. The downside: it’s not cheap.
  4. Potatoes. I don’t know what happened to the reputation of potatoes. I blame french fries and potato chips and those low carb diets. Potatoes are actually really good for runners, though. A simple plain white potato has vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. More importantly, potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which is an important vitamin for athletes. So eat your potatoes! I love all potatoes, but yukon gold are my favorite.
  5. Pasta. This one is kind of a no-brainer for runners. Even white pasta, which has a bad rep this days, has it’s place. It’s gentle on the stomach the day before a big race or run and helps store energy for the long term.
  6. Black Beans. I love black beans. I prefer to buy dry beans and cook them myself, but I have found lately that sometimes, after running, I need something that I can prepare as quickly as possible. Canned black beans aren’t my favorite thing in the world, but they are fast and simple after a long run. Also sometimes I will cook a bunch of beans at at time and freeze them for fast dinners. Just don’t make the mistake of eating beans before a run. That’s a mistake you only make once. Save the big bean burritos for post-run.
  7. Chickpeas. There’s so much you can do with chickpeas! You can roast them and put them on salads or just snack on them right out of the bowl. You can make hummus and falafel. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I’ve found that chickpeas are the perfect way to sneak extra protein into my diet.
  8. Fruit. Orange slices or a blueberry smoothie makes for a wonderful pick-me-up after a long run. Apples are also an excellent snack, but are best after a run (too much fiber for before a run).
  9. Greek Yogurt. Dairy and I don’t always agree, but boy do I love greek yogurt. Add some garlic, herbs such as chives or dill, maybe a teensy bit of mayo, and you have an excellent dip for veggies. Perfect for post-run recovery.
  10. Eggs. I go through phases with eggs.  Sometimes I eat too many of them and get tired of them, but I’m currently in the “I love eggs” phase. Hard boiled eggs are the perfect post-run snack, scrambled are creamy and comforting, poached are a healthy addition to a veggie meal. And eggs are a complete protein, so bring on the eggs!
  11. Hot Tea. A glass of hot tea after a cold winter run does wonders. I wouldn’t have made it through the winter without it.

So runners, what are your favorite running foods?