Quick Tip: What Should Runners Eat When They Aren’t Running?

What are the foods you eat on a regular basis?

What to Eat...

What to Eat…

The topic of food/what you eat gets brought up a lot in running circles, but it usually centers on:

  • What you eat during a run/race
  • What you eat the night before a run/race
  • What you eat immediately after a run/race

But what about all of the other times you’re eating during a week? Do you pay as much attention to what you consume on a random Tuesday for lunch as you do the night before a half/full marathon?

Should you?

Are You Really What You Eat?

There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of food that we eat directly impacts our overall health, which in turn directly impacts our running.

Feel free to disagree, but you’re not going to change my mind.

Our bodies need fuel to perform the myriad of functions that go on beneath the surface on a daily basis, and the better the source of fuel our bodies get, the better they will perform.

In my mind, it’s pretty simple.

At least in theory.

Because the hard part is figuring out what “high quality” food actually means…

Is There a “Right Way” for Runners to Eat?

I don’t think so.

  • I’ve interviewed runners that swear by the power of eating beef and other meats on a regular basis.
  • I’ve interviewed runners that aren’t vegetarian/vegan, but definitely eat more plants than animals.
  • I’ve interviewed runners that are vegan, and are convinced that cutting meat/animal products out of their diet has been beneficial.

At the end of the day, I don’t think that any of them are necessarily right or wrong.

I think that each of them have found what works best for them, and that is the key.

They aren’t looking for a one-size-fits-all philosophy. They are doing what works best for them as runners and as human beings, and embracing it.

Johnny Depp For the Win...

Johnny Depp For the Win…

What Does My Diet Look Like?

I’m constantly changing and tweaking my diet, trying to figure out what the right balance is for me.

But as of today, 13 May 2016, this is what my typical diet looks like:

  • No Solid Food Until at Least Noon: Most days, I don’t eat breakfast until at least 12, and more often than not it’s closer to 1. I started this practice after reading the 8 Hour Diet, which suggests intermittent fasting as a way to reduce inflammation in body (since digestion is very inflammatory). Inflammation has been linked to several chronic diseases, including some cancers, heart issues, cognitive decline, and more, and I’m just hoping that if I only eat between 12ish and 8ish each day, I’ll reduce my risk of some chronic diseases later in life. (To be honest, I’m scared shitless of getting Alzheimers. Both of my paternal grandparents had it, and I’ll literally take any other medical condition that’s known to man before Alzheimers. And there seems to be a strong link between inflammation and Alzheimers, so if being hungry in the morning keeps my brain healthy and working until they put me in the ground, it’s a VERY small price that I’m more than willing to pay.)
  • No Meat Before Dinner: I started doing this recently, thanks to talking with Laura Norris on the podcast recently, and I’m still adjusting to it. I love meat, and the idea of giving it up completely is a non-starter for me. But Laura talked about the idea of eating meat only at dinner, and I’ve been following this way of thinking for the past couple of weeks. I’ve definitely eaten more veg since I started only eating meat at dinner, and more plants in your diet is always a good thing.
  • Avoid Pills and Powders: I am not at all sold on pills/powders/supplements. Full disclosure, I started taking a Vitamin C supplement after listening to a great episode of the Fat Burning Man a few months ago, but that is it. I don’t take a multi-vitamin, I don’t use protein powder in my smoothies. I stick with the idea that quality food is what we need more than pills/powders. I also believe that there are things in real food that are beyond our scope of understanding, meaning that the vitamins and mineral from eating real food is way more beneficial to our bodies than the same quantities of vitamins and minerals from a vitamin. I don’t have any research to back up this line of thinking, but I believe it 100%.
  • Drink Fatty Coffee: I’m a coffee drinker. Some might call me an addict, but I think that takes it a bit too far. I don’t add any cream or sugar to my coffee, but I do put in a pat of grass-fed butter and organic coconut oil in my first cup of the day. This blend took some getting used to, but now I definitely enjoy it. Starting the day with some high quality fat only can help improve brain function and burn fat, much more so that having a sugar rush in the morning from sweeteners, juices, or pastries.

Overall, however, I try to stick with real food as much as possible. It’s tough to be perfect when it comes to eating real food, but I do the best I can as often as I can and I do believe that it makes a difference in my health and in my running.

(The book that opened my eyes to the importance of what we eat is titled Real Food, and I’d definitely encourage you to check it out if you’re struggling with the food component of your training.)

But please remember, what I do is what works for me and may or may not work for you.

Diet is definitely not a one-size-fits-all thing, and the key to finding what works for you is continual experimentation and refinement over time.

But the one thing that I do believe applies to all of us is that what we eat really does matter. And the better you eat, the better you’ll run!

What role does your overall diet play in your running/racing performance? #runchat Share on X

What Does Your “Typical” Diet Look Like?
Do You Experiment With Your Diet Regularly? Why or Why Not?

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2 replies
    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Oh my gosh YES!!! It’s all about consistent trial and error, always looking for ways to improve. Spot on Jen!


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