Don’t be a fuel fool.

Half marathon training is going swimmingly. I’m actually feeling myself get faster and more “conditioned.” I didn’t play sports competitively as a kid, so this feeling of athletic growth is new for me and very exciting. Is this what all of your childhoods were like? Tell me more!

Did you just ride your bikes after school to track meets and then pedal home with the weight of your medals hanging from your necks? I figured you did. Belated Mazel Tov! I imagine it looked something like this:

I was at home reading Babysitter Club #8 Boy Crazy Stacey. I won’t spoil it for you.

babysitter club
Oh heyyy big, strong lifeguard, take this landed 6-year old off my hands!

Last week a 3-mile run turned into a 6-mile run unexpectedly (I was running with other people) and I could handle it. I used to save up miles/energy/goodwill for a few runs a week of specific lengths. I would tell myself ‘I can’t do more than that if I want to also….’ And while I still protect the day before my weekly long run, I’m getting more confident and more emotionally flexible. (Definitely not more physically flexible, running turns my legs into ice blocks, it’s basically the set of Frozen in my quads.)

Last time I trained for a half (my first one), I didn’t pay much attention to speed. My goal was just to arrive on two feet at the end of the race. TA-DA! Now that I’m a bit more dedicated, I’m learning more about what I can eat (and more critically what I should not eat) before a run.

Each time a runner refers to food as “fuel,” I smirk. FUEL? It feels so serious to equate a pre-run snack to gassing up a car. Don’t get me wrong, I GET IT and it makes sense.  It takes away the hedonistic quality from eating. And I guess if we’re going to be hardcore athletic machines, we need fuel not yummy snackies. Or whatever. Maybe as I become a more seasoned runner I’ll think about it the same way.

I learned today (from a real live gastrointestinal doctor) that some people (including your very own Cuckoolemon) should not eat peanut butter before a run. On the tens of fitness blogs I frequent, the classic photo of “pre-run fuel”  features the classic whole wheat toast + PB + banana combo, but not for this girl. Peanut butter is high in fat and fat takes a long time to digest. This doesn’t bother some people, but I was told to stick with Gu or Gummies, which your body reads as liquid. (Gotchya, digestive system!)

pre-run fuel...for someone else
pre-run fuel…for someone else

I like these Clif Shot Bloks. My GI said your body registers them as a liquid (similar to jello, its why pre-surgical patients are allowed to eat jello). 3 pieces is a serving, but I usually eat one at a time. Just a little somethin’ somethin’ before the run.

Shot Bloks
Official review.

Here is some more advice (from sources more wise than me) on what you should eat before a tough work out:

What do you eat before a run? What your fuel strategy (ha!)?



  1. August 21, 2014 / 8:07 pm

    I like to eat a croissant before races. It digests quickly and it’s a nice treat.

    • Nicole
      August 21, 2014 / 8:31 pm

      That sounds delicious. I wonder if it would be to buttery for my lame stomach.

  2. NihongoJones
    August 22, 2014 / 9:55 am

    I have started doing toast or an English Muffin with butter before a long run. Just a little bit of butter helps the bread go down. I’ve also tried peanut butter, but Skippy lets me down when he wants to remind me what he tastes like after every 1/4 mile.

    • Nicole
      August 22, 2014 / 11:06 am

      @nihongojones, re: PB EXACTLY. It’s a major league nono for some (sounds like for you)

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