Lessons learned from a habitual outdoor runner

Tag: hydration

Food and Drink on the Run

I carry a 20oz water bottle on my running belt (similar model) for hydration. I rarely need it during the cooler parts of the year, but I always carry it. As I mentioned in a different post, I use water to curb hunger pangs if they occur on a 10-mile run or less. During the hot summer months, I can easily drink most of it during my normal 8-9 mile runs.

Why water? When I first was able to actually run more than 2 miles, I read about electrolytes, sugars, and other nutrient deficits that can occur while running so I tried a few “sport” drinks in my bottle.

  • First, they really didn’t seem to help revitalize or refresh while running.
  • Next, the bottle can get sticky and can leave stains (on everything).
  • And the waste was glaringly evident. If you don’t drink it all, how long would you leave it in the bottle? Is it still consumable after being in high summer temps mixed with your sweaty lips and saliva? Eww…

Anyway, I found that sticking with water not only provided the refreshment needed, but it was also easier to deal with. Plus, on those long runs, it’s easier to find replacement water from a park or gas station than dealing with the time and hassle of money to buy something.

What about food?

Most of the time I don’t need it, but on those crazy days when I’m going for a run greater than 10 miles, I put some Medjool dates in a cheap baggie and drop them in my pocket.

About the 7 mile mark, I’ll eat a date with a drink of water, then repeat every other mile. I have found this is sufficient nutrition to maintain a run without feeling poorly during or after. My longest run at this point is a little over 15 miles, and this worked well.

I have tried other foods as well – energy bars, granola bars, nuts, etc. However, for me, those are harder to consume while running. It is very easy to choke on anything that can break apart when you’re chewing because you’re also breathing more while in motion. The dates are softer, chewy, can easily sit under your tongue while getting an extra breath, and are packed with natural goodness.

My morning foods

First thing out of bed – an 8 oz glass of water. This seems to wake up the digestive tract a bit and hydrate after sleep.

My morning exercise routine burns over 1100 calories. I have to consider what the body and muscles need to perform while not eating too much or things that will hinder the exercise.

I’ve tried variousĀ fruits, drinks, and snack bars, but what I’ve settled on a regular basis is homemade no-bake energy-bites. You can find various recipes online, ours includes the following:

After my initial in-home exercises (I’ll talk about these in another post) and before my run, I consume another 8 oz glass of water and an energy-bite. I have found this is enough for about 6 miles without getting hunger pangs. Often the hunger pangs are noticeable around the 7-mile mark which I temper with water. When I get over 10 miles, the water is not enough to satisfy, but we can talk about that later as well.

Post-run I need to rehydrate with 12-16 ounces of water. The last few years I’ve included a super-food powder (currently this) in the water to help replenish the bodies needs. I’ll do a post about supplementals later.

I start my breakfast with a Smoothie. The content has varied, so I’ll share the basic ingredients I’m currently using.

I mix this all up in my Ninja-mixer, and it’s like going to Dairy Queen every morning, without the mysterious junk, sugars, and fat.

Finally, I have a bowl of cereal. I have a few go-to combinations like plain shredded wheat mixed with Life (Kroger brand) cereal. The other regular mix is a little Kroger’s Musili with Multi-grain Cheerios. I use unsweetened almond milk in my cereal.

If I have time, I add a cup of hot tea to start the day.

With all the above, I’m usually around the 700 calorie restoration point.


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