Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition for Runners
The right fuel to power you through any run, no matter your fitness level.
Long Training Runs
Before: It’s most beneficial to eat a full meal three or four hours before you head out to slog through many miles. But, Antonucci says, “There’s ideal, and then there’s practical.” If the idea of setting your alarm for 3 AM sounds, well, insane, just have that meal an hour or two ahead of the run. But adjust the menu if breakfast gets close to the outing: Go for something easily digestible, like a banana with peanut butter and a high-calorie sports drink. “Even more important,” says Ryan, “is to have a good hydration and fueling plan for the run.” Try to take in between 150 and 300 calories per hour during extra-long bouts—with gels, sports drinks, or whatever snack that you can carry and your body can handle.
After: Same as with speed work, make sure to eat within half an hour of your finish. Go for 200 to 300 calories and try to include an anti-inflammatory food, such as avocado or walnuts, to reduce inflammation caused by all that pounding the pavement. Then sit down to a bigger meal a few hours later and continue snacking every two hours or so for the rest of the day, suggests Monique: “Your muscles can’t bounce back from one feeding; eating more often jump-starts recovery.”