If you’ve trained for a half marathon, marathon distance, or longer, you are likely familiar with all of the different fueling options available for long runs. While these pre-formulated fuel packets are a great option for many, we often forget that you can eat many “real foods” on the run too.
Why You Should Think About Fueling for a Long Run
The goal of long run fueling is to prevent your body from depleting its glycogen stores and helping it to keep blood sugar levels steady. Many people choose not to take in fuel for half marathons, only for runs over 2 hours. Others, like me, find that they just “feel” better when fueling on runs of over 1 1/2 hours. I usually have a GU (or other fueling option) at 45 minutes in, and then every 45 minutes thereafter.
Long run nutrition options like GU, Clif Shot Bloks, and Sport Beans can help keep you fueled for long distance runs, but so can plenty of other foods you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator.
Real Food Snacks for Long Runs
So, what are some real food options for the long run? Raisins are a great and easily portable fueling source. They are calorie dense and easy to throw in a small Ziploc bag. If you don’t like raisins, you can try Craisins or other dried fruit. Bananas are another good option for an easy to eat and digest fruit. They can also provide you with a healthy dose of potassium! Dates also provide potassium and a good dose of natural sugar to keep you going!
I love Larabars (made from all natural, real food ingredients like nuts and dates), and they are super easy to cut into small bite-size pieces. They are soft and easy to chew while running, so they are another favorite for long run nutrition. If you don’t want to spend the money on buying a pre-made bar, there are many different options for making your own at home.
If you’re not into fruit, bite-sized pretzels are another great choice– especially if you tend to lose a lot of salt on long runs. I love the tiny snack bags they sell for kids (especially at Halloween) since they are just the right size for stashing in your pocket, fuel belt, etc.
Other Non-Real Food Snacking Options
If you’re not down with the sports nutrition options, but not sure you can swing dried fruit or pretzels, you can also try making small packages of gummy bears or other types of bite-size easy to eat candies like M&Ms, Skittles, jellybeans, or even mini marshmallows.. They will give you a sugar boost–just make sure you take in something with electrolytes if you need them, as you won’t find them packaged in your favorite candy! 😉
If you’re running a marathon or ultra marathon, soup or peanut butter sandwiches can also hit the spot when you’re really hungry and need something that’s easy to eat and easily digestible.
What do you eat on long runs?