Running 101: Proper Fueling



The last post was all about nutrition.

Now let’s talk about fueling before, during and after a run. I know the two areas intersect but I wanted to split up the two so there wouldn’t be one huge long post.

Depending on the duration of your run will determine how many calories/carbs you will need to be consuming for each run.

For training I do eat chews, gels, Nuun (hydration electrolyte drink) which are not Paleo, but I found that by adding these has benefited my training.

Running 101 Proper Fueling

Let’s get started! Here are some basic guidelines when it comes to fueling for your run. Keep in mind, these won’t work every one. You have to experiment with different fuels, foods and see what works for you!



Running 101: Proper Fueling


Loren Cordain gives a few food options in his book (The Paleo Diet  for Athletes) for pre-race/run fuel*:

  • Fruit w/ eggs (ie- hard-boiled egg w/ a banana)
  • Applesauce mixed with protein powder
  • Baby food including animal products
  • Liquid meals (easier to digest on if your stomach gets nervous/queasy on race day.)
  • Sports bar with protein
  • Fluids, especially water.

**p.25-27 (The Paleo Diet for Athletes)


Here are MY “before” foods for a race and/or long run:

{Duration of the run}

Less than 60 mins: just water

60-90 mins: ½ avocado (eaten 45mins-1 hour prior)

90-120mins: ½ baked sweet potato and handful of pistachios (1- 1  1/2  hrs prior)

2+ hours: ½ baked sweet potato + ½ avocado (1 ½ -2 hours prior)

4+ hours: 1 hard-boiled egg + ½ sweet potato (2 hours prior)

+ 1 banana (1 hour prior)

**I know these don’t follow exactly the guidelines for fueling before a run, but this is what works for me.


There isn’t a quick, easy answer for what you need to consume during a run. It is based on many variables: how long you will be running, what you ate prior (hours, days), your height/weight, etc.

Over the course of many years of running and racing I have tried many different fuels. It is all about finding the right ones that work for you. I feel like a broken record, but not everyone will NOT use the same type of fuel.

There are tons of different brands and different forms of fuel that are out there. Some runners bypass the chews and gels all together and choose the candy route. Yes, just what you think it means, skittles, jelly beans, licorice, etc. On the course at the marathon, I ran last year, there were many people (random strangers-not course volunteers) that were handing out different types of candy for anyone that wanted them. One of those candies was red vines and I thought of my hubby (he loves those things) and later found out he did take some. Even during a marathon he couldn’t pass them up.

What fuel do I use “during” my training runs and races?

5k and 10k distance races: WATER ONLY

Half and full marathon races: WATER + gels/chews/etc


Honey Stinger – chews and gel shots

GU gel shots

These 2 brands are the only ones that agree with my stomach and are easy to chew and swallow while not having to stop.



So, you just finished your run.

Now what?!?

There are many factors when it comes to what I eat/drink after:

  1. Temperature
  2. Duration
  3. Intensity/pace

Based on these 3 areas will determine how much I eat. If the temperature is over 70F and/or longer than 60 mins I will have my Nuun electrolyte drink.

Cordain, breaks down the FIVE goals that need to be met within that Golden 30 minutes post-run. The following is taken from Cordain’s book:

“During the 30 minutes after exercise stops, your body is better prepared to receive and store carbohydrate than at any other time during the day.” p. 52

“Goal #1: Replace expended carbohydrate stores….muscle glycogen stores are now at a low-level.

Goal #2: Rehydrate. Chances are good that you are experiencing some level of dehydration following a long or hard workout or race.

Goal #3: Provide amino acids for resynthesis of protein that may have been damaged during exercise. Protein, particularly sources that are rich in the branched-chain amino acids should be taken in at a carb-to-protein ratio of about 4:1 or 5:1 over the 30-minute recovery period.

Goal #4: Begin replacing electrolytes. Electrolytes are the salts sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are found either within the body’s cells or in extra cellular fluids, including blood. Dissolved in the body fluids as ions, they conduct an electric current and are critical for muscle contraction and relaxation and for maintaining fluid levels.

Goal #5: Reduce the acidity of body fluids. During exercise, body fluids trend increasingly toward acidity. “ p.52-58

Examples of food to eat AFTER a run*:

Protein: baked chicken, hard-boiled eggs, milk, seafood, whey protein

Carbs: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, rice, beans

Electrolytes in Juices and fruits used during Recovery*: apple, banana, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges

*p.57 The Paleo Diet for Athletes

The information that I went over in this post is only a small portion of proper fueling in running. I can’t possibly go into detail because there is so much out there and it would be literally a whole novel just on nutrition and fueling.

Reader questions:

Running 101: Proper fueling


Running 101: Proper Fueling


Running 101: Proper Fueling

Suggested books and articles to read:

Runner’s World: Top foods for Runners

The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain

Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser


What fuels your long runs/races?

Don’t forget to  check out the other posts in this series and be on the look out for upcoming posts:

Running 101 Series:

Getting Started

Nutrition and Paleo

Proper Fueling (before, during and after a run)

A look into my fueling before, during and after a 12-mile run

Gear (coming soon)

training (coming soon)

exercises/stretches/strength training/cross-training for the runner (coming soon)

Misc.-weight gain during training, etc.  (coming soon)

Don’t forget to follow me!





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17 Responses to Running 101: Proper Fueling

  1. Kimberly Morganstern says:

    Very helpful, thank you Lindsey!

  2. jillconyers says:

    I learned the hard way a long time ago that fueling is key to a successful race or run. Avoid hitting the wall!

  3. Karen says:

    Lots of great suggestions! I never fuel during a run because I seem to get a cramp. Even when I ran my half marathon I did eat some sport beans but I funky for a little bit after I ate them. I did find on my trail runs I will put an almond in my mouth and take a long time to chew it and it seems to not give me any bad side cramp.Thanks for sharing how to nourish after a workout 🙂

  4. Great post and very thorough! I will be referencing it as I train, thank you!!!

  5. Another great job Lindsey! You provide a lot of good info here and love your graphics too. I bet if I was better about what I ate before a run I wouldn’t feel so torn up after a long run. Thanks. Bookmarking and sharing!

  6. Oh and I nominated you for a Liebster award, just posted it on the blog!

  7. Great post, Lindsey! I love your graphics.
    I also love Honey Stinger chews. I’m sure I could eat them on a regular basis as candy 🙂
    I also really love mint chocolate Clif bars, but I think they may bug my stomach sometimes.

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