If you’re a runner, you know all the basics of good nutrition, “carbin’ it up”, protein shakes, hydration, and so forth. But you also know that you have a few go-to’s that may not be the most traditional or healthy, but dog-gone it – they work!
We asked some of our most avid runners for their weirdest must-have haves, pre & post run, and put together the following.
We give you: The Wackiest Foods for Runners
Coffee – Yes, it’s known for being a diuretic, so wouldn’t it be counter-intuitive as a pre-run boost? Not if you drink it in moderation and keep hydrated otherwise. Coffee packs just enough caffeine to bolster your mental acuteness, the desire to run, and might even improve your (sometimes groggy) pre-run mood. Key word: Moderate.
Nothing – Wait, nothing?? If you’re an early morning runner, you may struggle with the idea of eating first instead of just hitting the pavement. Is that ok? Well, ask yourself this: how long your run is and when did you last eat? An early morning run of less than 30 minutes may be just fine on an empty stomach, but anything longer than 30 minutes warrants a few slices of whole grain toast or fruit. No matter how long you run, never, ever skip your post-run calorie intake.
Coca-Cola & Gatorade (yes, together) – Some of our runners swear by this. Cutting Coca-Cola with Gatorade actually brings the carbonation content down significantly, so you are left with mostly carbs, which keeps muscles thriving when sugar levels fall, and caffeine, which has been proven to increase performance in all endurance-related sports.
Pickle Juice – Say what? That’s right. The vinegar in pickle juice makes it a common pre-run cocktail for those who particularly want to avoid muscle cramps. Vinegar sends a signal to the brain to relax muscles that are in contraction. Not only that, but because runners sweat out a great deal of salt, pickle juice can keep sodium at a normal level (particularly on runs longer than 1-2 hours).
During the Run
Mashed potatoes – While running? Yup. Mashed white or red potatoes, mixed with olive oil, salt, parmesan, herbs, or pepper for flavor provides just the carbs, calories, and salt you need mid-run. Squeeze it out of the baggie, think of it as space food, and keep on truckin’.
Olive oil / nut / corn/ date smoothie – This whacky little gem sounds a little non-traditional, but take heart: it is easy to make, easy to take, and does not spoil. Although it doesn’t always taste the best, it’s packed with calories and perfect for replenishing your bod mid-run. Fun fact: this was originated by Arabic nomads who used it when crossing the Syrian Desert.
Bone broth – We’re not saying it’s going to taste like liquid gold or that it’s easy to tote, but bone broth is one of the best and most natural ways to replenish during a long run. How do you make it? There are numerous sites that will teach you how, but just like the name suggests, bone broth is made from boiled beef bones (you can obtain these from your local butcher), simmered with vegetables, and a little salt/pepper for seasoning. The benefit: a huge hit of calcium and magnesium (and the added sodium doesn’t hurt).
Sushi – Sayonara, side-cramps. The pure protein of raw sushi on the go keeps many runners lightly full, fueled and fired up for the last leg of their run. Common sense: have this chilled and ready at a station. Nothing stops your run faster than food poisoning, so think ahead on that one. Spoiled sushi can take you from a runner’s high to the runner’s “runs” faster than you can yell, “Wasabi!” Eat responsibly.
Chocolate Milk – Before you dairy gag, consider the fact that chocolate milk contains twice the protein and carbohydrate amount as most sports drinks and still offers a high water content to aid in hydration. Not to mention, that side boost of calcium, sodium, and sugar. For high-endurance running, there is nothing a snazzy sports drink can provide that your old-fashioned chocolate milk can’t. Not to mention, it’s chocolate milk! Let your inner-child rejoice!
Beer – Even if you’re a novice runner, you’ve noticed that that just about every 5K ends in balloons, brouhaha, and beer of some sort. Here’s the good news about beer post-run: it contains anti-oxidants and multiple B vitamins. The bad news? It contains alcohol. So, while the occasional post-race imbibe is more than ok, we wouldn’t recommend it as your go-to drink of champions. When in doubt, chocolate milk it out ;-)