Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Fuel Replenishment

I already know that fuel replenishment is a huge problem for me, and it's more than likely a major part of why my mid-week runs simply aren't cutting it. Here's what Coach Jenny has to say (via Ask Coach Jenny)...

Fuel Replenishment. You are what you eat, and if you aren't fueling with enough calories after long runs, it can create an energy void. This is especially true when runners are trying to train for a race and lose weight at the same time. Keep a fuel log and track the calories going in and out to optimally balance your caloric energy. This will also help dial in the quality of fuel as well. I use a free log called because it allows you to evaluate your total energy expenditure (training, lifestyle, and what you need to breathe) with your caloric consumption. If you drop much below a 15% deficit it can reduce your metabolic efficiency and create a lot of problems including low energy. For example, if you burn 2800 calories but take in only 1600 during the day, this creates a 42% deficit in energy lost. This will negatively affect your body's ability to recovery from the demands of your workouts. (Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Fitday – I just believe it's a useful tool for runners.)

I feel certain that I'm putting in enough calories each day, but I'm probably not refueling with the best types of food. I'd much rather reward myself for a good workout with a delicious cupcake when I should really be slurping down a protein shake instead. Don't get me wrong, I've come a long way since my days of eating goldfish for dinner. I feel like I'm getting closer to eating like a real adult (with the exception of a few too many frozen pizza nights). But in the final days before this marathon, I could certainly afford to take nutrition more seriously. 

While I love the idea of using a tracking system like, I've never been very good at keeping daily logs. I have a graveyard of failed diaries with only one page completed where I vow to begin logging my every thought. So while I'm sure I'll give a try, I highly doubt that it's the best solution for me. I think I'll be better off paying more attention to what is going in my body and how it makes me feel. 

I made the HUGE mistake of not properly fueling [read: overindulging in red wine and ice cream] before my long run on Saturday and O.M. to the G... I've never felt closer to death in my life. I stopped three times for the loo, saw spots by mile 10 and zig-zagged all the way home until I finally plopped down next to a homeless man on a park bench, feeling entirely too exhausted to walk the final 100 yards to my apartment. It was a "learning moment" that I care not to repeat. 

So with 2 months until race day (whoa!), I'm going to take nutrition a lot more seriously. What do you guys eat after a long run to replenish energy? I gnawed on an apple and tried to eat a bagel, but quite honestly, everything felt like sandpaper in my mouth. And what do you eat before a long run? I haven't quite mastered the fine line between eating enough to avoid seeing spots, but not eating so much that my long run turns into a bathroom crawl. Ideas????


  1. During the week, before my workouts, I eat a Luna Bar. On the weekend, before a long run, I start drinking a lot of water as soon as I wake up and I'll eat a piece of bread with SunButter (like peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds).

    Post workouts, I'm usually not very hungry, but I know I need to refuel, so I eat small bits at a time. A banana here, some yogurt there, a sandwich there, etc. What if you try an immediate post run snack of watermelon? You'll be getting a little something in your tummy and helping with hydration to.

  2. ooh Rachel, this is so helpful! What are your favorite Luna Bar flavors? Do you eat a full-sized one before working out - and it doesn't weigh you down?

    I'm sooooo bad about drinking enough water throughout the day and I absolutely HAVE to work on that. I've never tried SunButter but will give it a go - yesterday I did a bagel with peanut butter, and I think SunButter would probably be a better option.

    I tried watermelon the day after my hot yoga class because the good folks at lulu had it out for us, and I think that's definitely a good option. I'm off to the grocery store now!

  3. Luna Bar has so many awesome flavors. Recently the Lemon Zest has been my go to. Chocolate Peppermint Stick and Iced Oatmeal Raisin are yummy too!

    In terms of how much you should eat before a workout, I think that is something that you will figure out over time. Some people can't eat a thing, whereas with me, I will feel sick if I don't have a decent snack in my stomach. My workouts usually start around 5 or 5:30 and I have a full Luna bar anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours beforehand.

    If you buy some SunButter, keep it in the fridge. It helps control the separation between the oil and the rest of the product.

    Good luck and I look forward to reading your updates!