Food + Running: What I’ve Learned

This week marks the third week of half marathon training! Sorry, five weeks from now these updates will probably be super annoying. Ehh, maybe they’re already annoying. I’M JUST SO EXCITED.

I never thought running could teach me so much about nutrition and maintaining a healthy relationship with food, but it has. As always, remember I’m just a random teen from PA sharing my thoughts. Always consult a professional if you have nutrition or exercise related questions. 

Eat Enough: Running is super energy intensive. Even as it gets easier when we get stronger, you’re still burning calories while you run. It’s very hard to be a successful, happy runner if you’re not eating enough.

img_0712Carbs Aren’t Bad: There is a reason why over 60% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. We need them. Our bodies break down glucose (from foods like potatoes, grains, fruit, veggies, etc) during cellular respiration and make ATP -> acronym that stands for a complicated scientific word that means energy. We use ATP to do everything, including running. Plus, carbs taste like hugs.

heartpotatoTreat Yourself…In Moderation: Everyone should treat themselves, not just runners, but I include this because training can get intense. We get too wrapped up in worrying about how weight affects pace, wanting to PR, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. The truth is that unless you’re an elite/professional runner, it doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

IMG_0717.JPGBonking is Preventable: I’ve only seriously bonked twice in 4 years of running. Both experiences were nutrition related. Once was during a 10 mile training run, and I hadn’t brought any carby snacks with me. Also I hadn’t had a big enough, carb rich lunch. The second time was during a summer half, and I had paced myself wrong and was dehydrated. I’m not saying I’ll never bonk again, but fueling properly definitely helps!

Running Suppresses Appetite: This one is frustrating. Especially during the summer, you finish a hot run and feel like you’re on the verge of barfing and food is the last thing on your mind. It’s still crucial to get nutrients into your body. Smoothies, toast, or a piece of fruit are always good options. (Low fiber, low fat smoothies will be gentler on the tummy)

img_0721Don’t Focus on Calories Burned: This goes for any type of exercise. Run because you want to be a better, stronger runner. Run because it makes you feel happy. Run because you want to meet new people at your local running club. But please, for pete’s sake, stop looking at your runs as calories burned. It takes away so much joy. If you hate running, DON’T RUN. There are a billion other ways to move your body.

Whole, Nutritious Foods = Better Runs: Treat yourself? Absolutely. Treat yourself all day every day? Ehh, not so much. Our bodies recover more quickly, fight off pathogens, and feel more energetic when our diet includes more plant-based, nutrient rich foods.

img_0724Fiber Pre-Run is risky: I love running super much, but it’s not always (read: rarely) glamorous. It’s a poop story, okay. You knew it was coming.

Rewind a good 3 years. It was my first “real” long run I had ever done, and I decided to run 8 miles. I started running, my dad was biking along side of me, and five miles in I really had to poop. But, the run was a loop, and we were in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve ever experienced runner’s trots, you feel my pain. If you haven’t, Google it and be enlightened. I told dad he needed to bike home and get the car, or I would literally poop in a field. He biked off, but by the time he got home and brought the car, I was about a 1/2 mile from home. I was too darn stubborn to cut my first long run short by a few minutes, so I waddled home. Thankfully, my digestive system is used to long runs now, and I’ve learned that lots of fiber pre-run is a gamble…lesson learned. 

So tell me…

What has running taught you?

Have you ever had to learn the hard way when running?





12 thoughts on “Food + Running: What I’ve Learned

  1. Lol. I love your candidness with that last story.
    Fueling your body is so important for athletes–eating enough, eating carbs, eating whole foods, and yes, not focusing too much on the calories burned. This book I’ve been reading lately has a lot of great information about why exercise is good for you, and (according) it’s NOT primarily because of the weight loss or calorie-burning effect. I thought it was a really interesting argument.
    Also appreciate your thoughts about how it’s okay to not run if you don’t like to. I’m always preferred a good long bike ride or group fitness class. I figure we’re not all the same and everyone should focus on doing the kind of exercise they enjoy most, even if that looks really different for everyone.
    I think it’s so awesome that you’re training for a half! I bet you’ll kick butt. Looking forward to reading more about it.


  2. Its always a good time for a poop story. Though I do NOT envy you for how you felt those three years ago. Ughhhhhh. The worrrrsssst.
    I definitely know the weird frustration of actually NOT feeling hungry after a run or a workout. When I used to run I think I found it wasn’t until the day AFTER that my hunger revved up. Keep going with the healthy fuel AND treats. We do need both.


  3. I love that you are learning and growing and developing!! Keep at it girl 🙂
    Let’s see…running has taught me that I hate to run 😉
    Kidding, but really. While it isn’t my all time favorite I do enjoy running outdoors in the summer months and just being in nature and breathing fresh air. It is a really great way to clear my mind!


    1. Haha 🙂 It is a nice way to shake things out and get outside. I love that there are so many types of exercise, and we each can have a favorite. You always kill it with lifting…and those unassisted pull ups and chins ups!! Awesome!


  4. As I’ve been slacking on blog reading I didn’t know you were training for a half marathon, Having seen a lot of bloggers who – this is obviously my subjective impression – seem to overtrain and underfuel it’s refreshing to see your take on fuel vs. running. It sounds like you had a very balanced and healthy attitude towards all of it which is so important for lasting success – and enjoyment.
    Side note: by complete coincidence I read a post about signs of being too healthy that runners should be aware of – like I said, though, you seem to have that balance down :).


    1. That second paragraph was meant to say I’d read that article in another tab the very moment before heading over to your post. Without this little detail it sounds like I was trying to imply you weren’t going about it in a healthy way.


    2. It’s a tough balance to strike. I’ve had to take time off from running in the past to reboot and remind myself that running is purely for enjoyment and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. One of my goals, in this training season, is to stay focused on eating enough and refueling well. Thank you for your encouragement 🙂


  5. Girl, you talk talk talk about it! Be crazy excited!
    Running has taught me so, so much. It really was what healed my relationship with food! I owe my current state of mind to marathon training!


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