What To Eat Before Running

What To Eat Before Running

Well, folks, I’ve been wondering the same thing most endurance runners question when competing: what should I eat?! And, after some trial and error, I think I’ve found nutrition that works for me.

What can I say? Everyone was right when they said its ‘trial and error’ and it’s ‘different for everyone.’ I discovered these nutrition lessons after running the BMO Marathon, Tenderfoot Boogie 50km, TrailStoke 50km and Squamish 50km this summer.

Let me share my nutrition lessons so that you might not have to make the same mistakes I did.

Here’s What Not To Eat While Running

First, here’s what not to do:

1) Don’t eat unfamiliar foods during a long run

I eat a very clean diet with minimally refined sugars or processed foods but opted to try “junk food” for easy fast carbs and fats during two ultras.

I figured,

“30 grams of carbs in 6 jujubes? Easy! A Mars Bar? Awesome!”

My digestion system fought back viciously,

“What is this garbage?! Get out of me!”

Lesson learned: Don’t try this on the trail.

2) Don’t eat too little – or too much

Too little food will make you “bonk” if you are running for hours. The amount of carbs, fats and calories you are burning is HUGE! You need to replenish or it will just weaken you.

Too much food will bring about the description in the previous point,

“Get out of me!”

3) Don’t fall victim to temptations at the aid stations

Sure, that weird food could be delicious. But have you ever tried running off a buffet dinner?!

That random assortment of food probably doesn’t compliment each other.. Unless you normally eat pineapple with salted potatoes, energy gels and miscellaneous baked goods.

In that case, smorgasbord on, my friend!

Instead, Here’s What To Eat Before Running

Here’s what to do:

1) Try foods during a training run

You know what they say, practice makes perfect! It’s better to know that a certain type of food doesn’t sit well with you before race day.

2) Eat foods with higher carb amounts

I loved eating dried fruit last run! Try to stick to eating around 100-200 calories an hour or more. The goal is to replenish 60% of the carbs you are burning.

3) Be prepared for mistakes on the trail

If your tummy is upset one race- make sure you bring toilet paper for emergencies or know where any outhouses may be! Don’t quit, try something different the next race!

My favourite foods for racing:

Dried figs



Dried cranberries

Homemade energy bars

Electrolyte/carb drinks

Next thing I want to try eating? Seaweed for sodium… Heck, maybe I’ll just bring a kappa roll.

Good luck to you all and we’d love to hear what nutrition works for your run!

Run happy, live happy, be happy.

Shannon Penway
Kintec Race Team

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