I know. Stupid question. You’re a runner. Of course you’re hungry. When runs get longer and appetites get larger, eating can practically become a second workout each day. Carbo-loading is a time-honored pre-race ritual (even for races we might not *need* to carbo-load before)? And have you seen those post-race spreads?
The thing is, for all the eating we do, most of us struggle to find the perfect pre-run snack or post-run meal. My friend Meredith, a lifelong swimmer who’s just getting back into running, asked for some suggestions for pre- and post-run snacks.
We’ll save long-run fuel, with its complicated protein-carb ratios and 30-minute refueling windows, for another day. Same goes for Gu, which shall not be addressed in this blog post. The beauty of eating before and after a shorter run — somewhere in the 30-minute to hour range — is that you can pretty much just go with whatever feels good in your stomach. The hard part is, it can be tricky to find a snack that feels good in your stomach once it’s all jostled around from running.
My favorite pre-run snacks, which I usually consume an hour or two before running:
A Luna bar (or Fiber One bar, or Kashi GoLean bar — you get the idea)
A cup of yogurt with a little Fiber One
A fruit salad with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla and Splenda
A low-fat muffin (I’ll include my pre-marathon chocolate-chip banana bread recipe below)
After a run, it’s all about what seems appealing after the aforementioned jostling. The single best post-run snack I’ve found is chocolate milk. I first tried it after reading this amazing study in which researchers found that plain ol’ chocolate milk helped a group of male cyclists recover their glycogen stores faster than Gatorade, a high-protein recovery drink and other fancy, expensive brews. It supposedly has the perfect ratio of simple carbs to protein. I dunno if that’s the case, but it’s REALLY yummy. If the end of a run coincides with dinnertime, like after a Tuesday-night Pacers run, I almost always make a quesedilla, or something else that’s quick to prepare and easy to digest.
Speaking of easy to digest (not to mention easy to eat several servings of in one sitting), I find that this chocolate-chip banana bread hits the spot just about any time: pre-run, post-run, sans-run …
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
Two eggs (or 1/2 c egg substitute)
1/3 c plain nonfat yogurt (make it the Greek kind to add some extra protein)
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine wet ingredients and sugar; set aside. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add dry mixture to wet stuff, mixing gently (or on a low speed) until the batter is just moist. Add chocolate chips. Bake in 8 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan covered with cooking spray for roughly 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Got any favorite running snacks? Share ’em by posting a comment below.