Fuel Your Run with this Go-to Snack
The get-up-and-go doesn’t come easily to me in the morning, not like hitting the snooze button — which happens at least twice. Everyone knows the importance of fitness in maintaining your overall health. Running for five to 10 minutes at a slow speed is linked to a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and regular runners, even the slowpokes, are far better off than nonrunners. It’s one of the few exercises that you know how to do, and it’s free. The problem is in getting up and going.
Your new go-to snack to fuel your run
Reading something like that made me think, “Hey, I can totally do that!”
It’s like taking a three-minute shower, just wearing clothes and for two minutes longer, right? I can totally do a 5k!
Wrong. I gave my body more credit in the waking up at the crack of dawn department than it deserved. It’s a problem most people face, but with a nutty tactic or two, I fueled my runs and finally found my get-up-and-go.
I Finally Got Up, but I Needed to Get Outside
After hitting the snooze button four times, I unwrapped myself from my toasty blanket burrito and climbed into the shower. It’s my tactic for tackling Monday mornings, and I thought the strategy was just as good for waking my body up for a healthy morning run.
Mornings are the only time I have to get out and be active. This needed to work.
By the time my hair dried, one eye had opened with the other slowly catching up. The time came to don the shiny new workout clothes I purchased for my healthy new fitness habit.
The thing about developing a new habit, though, is actually participating in starting and maintaining a routine.
The first week of forming a routine around running presents difficulties.
Waking up is the worst part of the battle and getting out the door is the second half. Little ones surprise you by springing upward from their beds too quickly. Breakfast burns and fairies kidnap your keys. Life is full of unexpected surprises.
I targeted small wins to wake up and achieve my morning running goal. I placed the alarm clock across the room near the bathroom.
When I turned off the alarm, the shower was a shorter distance than the bed. I used my phone to find a few asanas to try over traditional, and awkward, high school gym stretches and felt my motivation increase.
I must warn you, though — bad workout clothes are the unexpected obstacle between you and the door.
In theory, workout clothes are only a step up from pajamas. In actuality, some of those moisture-wicking clothes feel more like putting on a wetsuit for surfing.
My old workout reliables felt better-suited for convenience store gas-and-go runs where the attendant and I had an understanding — this was lazy mom-day attire, not fitness guru clothing. I got rung up, fueled my car, and picked up not-so-healthy treats.
Now, I had to fuel my body the right way and conquer this running thing.
How You Fuel Yourself Matters
The first two weeks were the most difficult, and it took time to figure out what I was doing wrong.
I finally had a decent wake-up routine and got my butt outside. The fresh air and solitude of being out in nature motivated me to keep going — running increasingly longer distances with joy — but I’d crash.
I sagely decided to eat after my morning run, rewarding myself with a big, healthy homemade breakfast. Mostly a bad idea.
I bought into the myth of running on an empty stomach — low training intensity doesn’t factor strongly into burning fat this way, nor does your endurance increase.
High-intensity runs are best for those with weight-loss goals, and when you’re starting out, trying to run a marathon on the first day puts you on the fast track to hospitalization. Carbs are key, but not like you’re used to eating.
Eating a big meal right after a run negates the whole experience for me, and I also learned not to eat a big meal 30 minutes before I headed out the door.
Take it from me, and don’t eat most grab-and-go snacks from your fridge. Getting the fuel-to-run equation right requires a little math: eat 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of weight times the amount you’ll run. For someone at 180 pounds, that’s 90 grams times an hour (90 x 1) for 90 grams of carbs.
An easily digestible food fuel item could be half a bagel spread with two tablespoons of jam. You’ve got carbs and something sweet to wake you up, right? It filled me up, but something felt missing.
I tried adding real fruit with some success, but nuts became my ultimate go-to snack to get up and go running.
How Nuts Fuel My Runs
Seeds and nuts pack complex carbohydrates into a small snackable package, breaking down more slowly in the body. They leave you full but not too full as they continually fuel your body for the run ahead.
I tried everything from dried peas to sesame seeds, but salted and roasted almonds became my favorite go-to. They are also packed with minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and the magnesium boosts my bone health. Almonds are also heart-healthy! So much in one nut.
I pop a few in my mouth or add them to a light side salad with fruit. My morning run snacks can vary, but I still rely on nuts to keep me going. When you find what works for you, you stick to it.
I also make sure to hydrate morning, noon, and night. Waking up was tough, but sticking to running long enough to establish a habit has challenged me. The results gave me more energy for the day, and the scenery on my run gifts me new and beautiful sights every morning.
Whether you’re new to running or are picking the habit back up, figuring out the right snack to fuel your run depends on your body’s needs for the day. What works for one person may not work for another.
The math equation for how many carbs to consume before a run helped me not feel overly stuffed, but I still felt a lack of energy. I also didn’t feel like doing math at the start of each day. I wanted to get up and out to enjoy the light of the sunrise and move my body.
I tried lots of nutty tactics to wake up and get outside, but little did I know that nuts themselves would be the ultimate game-changer for my morning runs. Nuts are my holy grail of running fuel.
It goes without saying that what worked for me may not work for everyone – maybe you’re allergic to nuts or you find they upset your stomach – not a problem, just don’t eat them!
Finding your secret formula to achieve your health goals – whether they include running or not – will be an adventure.
Experimentation is the best way to achieve a lifetime of health and good habits.