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Foods for Runners

By Riley Sugarman

Photos by Sophia Kapreilian​

Many believe all runners are healthy souls who do nothing but run, eat strictly super-food diets and carb-load, but this is a very common misconception. While many runners are health fanatics, the greater population is full of people with very diverse running and eating habits ranging from strict to lenient.

High school track and cross country runner Catherine Huynh’s (CAS ’19) diet was crucial during her running seasons, especially on the days of and directly before competing. She believed her food intake had a direct impact on her performance.

“My diet before workouts and runs was important in maintaining strength. Balance in food was key,” Huynh said.

She would typically eat a granola bar right before running and hydrate throughout the day, but Huynh admitted her choice in post-race recovery food was not always the best.

“I’d end up eating junk food, but I always tried to make fruit smoothies after workouts when I got home because they were so refreshing,” she said.

Huynh is a perfect example of many runners today who believe diet directly impacts running, but don’t proactively try to find foods that improve performance.

“I would definitely try a food that is said to improve performance, as long as it doesn’t seem too strange,” Huynh said, laughing.

Many are content with their running abilities and do not wish to change their habits, but some experience what is known as the dreaded plateau—when a runner sees no improvement for an extended period of time, regardless of training level.

Hydrating and attempting to minimize junk food intake can help overcome this plateau to a point, but adding a few foods to your diet can actually make a difference. Check out some of these easy-to-find snacks many swear by:

Chia seeds: While packed with nutrients such as potassium and antioxidants, these tiny seeds are virtually tasteless and easy to add to your diet. Sprinkle some on toast with peanut butter or add them to whatever you’re drinking. They keep you sustained for longer during runs and are gluten-free.

Honey Stinger Waffles: If you need a quick snack before running but don’t want a nasty cramp, try something light like a Honey Stinger waffle. They come in a variety of flavors: honey, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, gingersnap, lemon and more. They contain sodium, potassium and magnesium, three essential electrolytes that can help to boost endurance. Be careful, though, because they contain a whopping 14 grams of sugar, so make sure to eat in moderation.

Avocados: These tasty fruits (yes, they’re actually fruits!) contain tons of vitamins and nutrients proven to boost energy, so add some to your salad or sandwich. Do not be fooled by the word fruit—even though they are very nourishing, avocados are packed with fats and calories. Like most foods, if eaten in moderation (try only eating a quarter at a time) the avocado can be a great thing to add to your diet.

Eggs: One egg contains a mere 70 calories and is very cost-effective. They are packed with protein, good fats and vitamins and you can find them at any supermarket. The possibilities with eggs are endless. You can make them scrambled, over-easy, and hard-boiled and add them to anything your heart desires.

A great breakfast idea to try is an egg sandwich with avocado and chia seeds. You’ll need two slices of whole wheat bread, one egg, half of an avocado, some chia seeds and some sriracha sauce if desired. While your bread is in the toaster, chop up your avocado into tiny pieces and start making your egg. When the toast is done spread the avocado on both slices evenly like butter. Put your egg on one of the slices and add a tiny bit of the sriracha sauce to your egg and to the bottom of the top slice of bread. Lastly, sprinkle your desired amount of chia seeds on the sandwich and bon appétit!

Although simple, these foods can make a huge difference in performance. You only have one body so make sure to keep it healthy, especially if you put it through something like running.

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