You’re a vegan runner? What in the world do you eat on runs?
I was thrilled when I found out that I would be a guest poster here on Fit Running Mama.
I love sharing new recipes with other runners, and possibly expanding one’s pallete while running. Here’s my take on what I use to fuel on long runs. I hope you come away with something new to try.
When people find out I’m a vegan and that I run long distances, the question I get asked most frequently is: “if you don’t do gels, what do you eat on long runs?” When I first became vegan in December 2011, I still ate Gu’s and other processed gels until I could figure out what to eat that would keep me fueled for longer distances. I did lots of experimentation and lots of research on the internet (thank goodness for the internet and for other bloggers who provided me with a wealth of helpful information).
My number one priority in my quest for fuel was that I wanted to eat as much REAL food as possible and avoid as much processed garbage as I could. It was actually a lot easier than I initially thought it would be. I even learned how to make my own electrolyte drink that tastes pretty good, and doesn’t have all the scary chemicals that Gatorade and other drinks have (see the recipe at the end of this post).
My tastes are somewhat picky when I run long. I don’t care for sweet stuff after about 2 hours. My stomach gets really fussy after 4 hours, and after about 6 hours it tends to become quite cantakerous. The one drawback to eating real foods on runs is that I have to have more storage capacity to carry them (they are much bulkier and often more delicate than packaged energy gels). I run with a Nathan hydration vest that has 2 big pockets on the front for easy food access.
The best part about running with real food is that not only does it sit better in my stomach and digestive tract, but I wind up feeling much better at the end of runs than with the artificial food I used to stuff down my gullet.
The following foods are choices that I frequently eat:
- pumpkin seeds (unfortunately, not the healthy raw organic kind, but the kind you can buy at any convenience store. They are super salty and provide good nutrients and energy).
- energy date balls (see recipe here)
- pitted dates
- dried cherries
- dried apricots
- dried pineapple
- fig newtons (a local all-natrual grocer makes some that only have 5 ingredients that I love)
- walnuts (I eat a handful of walnuts everyday to give me a daily dose of Omega-3)
- homemade chia gel (see recipe at the end of this post)
- Hüma chia energy gel (LOVE it- it only has 7 ingredients and all natural stuff)
There are lots of other really great foods out there to eat, but these are the ones that I use the most often. I find that I enjoy eating real food, especially in an ultra. Your stomach shuts down the longer you run, and if you rely solely on energy gels, you will get to the point that just the thought of them makes you want to gag. Eventually, your stomach will no longer even tolerate them and will ultimately reject them (and not only is throwing up no fun, it’s the quickest way to end your race or make for a truly miserable experience). In an ultra you HAVE to eat real foods. Everyone does. In a race, one of my favorite real foods are boiled potatoes dipped in salt. I never eat them on long runs because they would get beaten to a pulp in my pack and become quite the mess. I also like pb&j at races (but again, don’t eat them on training runs because of the damage factor).
As with everything else, there’s a lot of experimentation that has to take place during training runs to find out what your stomach can handle and what is appealing to you. What tastes good in hours 1-2 will probably no longer be palatable in hours 3-4 and so on. Try different things. Try making new things. Try creating your own concoctions (and then please share them with me so I can try them, too).
Homemade Electrolyte Drink
- 32 oz water
- 1 orange sliced and squeezed, peel left on
- 1 lemon sliced and squeezed, peel left on
- 1/4 tsp of Himalayan or other sea salt (often I just leave this out and take Endurolytes to supplement the potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, etc for long stuff or on hot days. You can also dump a couple capsules of this stuff into your water, but it doesn’t mix very well).
If I’m running for more than 6-8 hours, I will add some Carbo-Pro to my water bottles to give me some extra carbs- it helps fill me with nutrition that doesn’t require me consuming food when my stomach starts shutting down. It’s just a little extra insurance to keep my from bonking later on in long races. I also use Carbo-Pro when training for Ironman distance triathlons.
Homemade Chia Gel
- 1T chia seeds
- lemon and lime juice to taste (sometime I use pomegranate juice)
- 3-4T water
Put it in a little bottle, let it sit overnight and the seeds will absorb the water and become gel-like. You may hav to play with the water you add to get it to the consistency you like. Sometimes I add a touch of agave to give a teeny bit of sweetness.
As for who I am, I’m a trail runner, road runner, ultra running hippie who loves all things outdoors. I’m not a fast runner. My times would make most people think “is she really even running at all??” My marathon PR is 4:45 (road), the only 50 mile race I’ve done took me 16:30 (yes, that is 16 LONG hours). My 50K PR (on trails) is a little over 9 hours. I’m slow, but I can go all day. My favorite things in life are exploring the Grand Canyon, climbing mountains, and discovering new, hidden trails. For more information about me, you can find me at my blog Run Turtle Run (links to my FB, Twitter, Pinterest pages can be found in the right corner of my blog).
Peace and Running!
Run Turtle Run