Pre/during run nutrition - Real food

Hey all,

I’m starting the process of training my gut to eat real food while running. Got my first 50k in November so bearing that in mind but also want to be able to have something in my stomach before/during early morning runs.

It would be good to hear your thoughts on some good introductory foods. I managed a piece of toast with dairy free butter this morning with absolutely no issues - but that was a very short/easy run. But also thinking ahead to my race, I may as well practice with what I’ll use!

Sweet potato pancakes? Home made rice cakes? Smoothies / fruit purees? I guess part of the equation is calorie density. Not so low that you need to be eating constantly and carrying it all, but not so high that you can’t process it quickly enough. Any thoughts / experiences would be appreciated!



One of my absolute favorite books on this the “Feed Zone Cookbook”. It was pulled together by Dr. Allen Lim who was tasked with fueling pro cyclists on the world stage. His recipes are awesome and are designed to get you the same nutrient load that many of the manufactured nutrition products strive for - but in real, whole food. My favorite recipes are all his different types of rice cakes (chocolate peanut coconut rice cakes, fig and honey rice cakes, cashew and bacon rice cakes, etc).

The only bit that takes a little bit of mastering is finding a way to transport the food out onto the trail. You will get pretty good at wrapping them with parchment lined aluminum foil.


I like to make bacon for my runs. I find that “bacon knots” travel well - I take a strip of bacon, cut it in half, and then keep tying the ends in knots till it’s about gumball size. Then just bake in oven at 375* for about 12-15 min depending on the desired level of crispness.

I also like to mash up all natural chunky peanut butter with raspberries or blackberries.

For longer self-supported runs, I’ve heard from friends that instant mash potatoes are great especially when the stomach is tired of sweets.

1 Like

This is a great question! I used to down like 10-15 Gu/gels on ultras and eventually discovered that I hated them! You can only handle so much sweet/fruity/sour candy-like food…

A couple general guidelines –
For longer runs, focus on high carb foods.
Do your best to avoid high fiber foods…that’s a GI issue waiting to happen.
Mix in some protein – the longer you go, the more you’ll need long-lasting energy. Bursts of sugar energy are only going to get you so far.

A few specific recommendations –
Peanut butter, peanuts, chocolate, dried fruit (so kind of the components of trail mix, but I prefer to have them separately so I can customize the proportion). Experiment with nuts, though. I’ve known people that get GI issues from them.
POTATOES – Seriously. Boiled, salted potatoes are spectacular.
Fruit – mostly bananas for me, but oranges are great too
Whole oats oat meal for breakfast. I started having an oat smoothie before longer runs (15-20 miles) and honestly felt fantastic.

Finally, for emergencies, I add a swig or two of coffee along with any of the above…obviously you need to be careful of the volume though…GI issues!


Oooh, sounds like a great Book Club candidate :slight_smile:


Thanks for the book suggestion.

I think it takes practice and experimentation…

I like PB&J before. I can eat it pretty close to the start as well as mid run and tolerate it well, and it seems to be a good mix of carbs/sugar/fats to provide dense energy. Also, very plain salty snacks…crackers, pretzels, etc to add sodium and carbs that are easy to digest.

Don’t forget hydration…I prefer a hand held bottle to sip continuously rather than gulping down cups. Once you are behind, it is hard to catch up.

1 Like