Learning to Run (Week 2): Fueling your workout

Are you sore yet??

Kind of awkward, but I find that the muscle that really agitates me whenever I first start a training program is my groin…thank God for butterfly stretches.

Yesterday afternoon at the gym, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. My last period class runs from 2:45-3:30 pm, which, since lunch is at 12:30, is a super awkward time and runs right into my afternoon snack, hitting me at a “low” in my energy levels for the day. Trust me: I’m wayyy beyond being embarrassed over eating in front of my students, but I’ve found that my blood sugar dips dangerously right during class, and I start to do and say really idiotic things. To keep me focused, I tend to snack right before class; usually, an apple, or, if I’ve had time to bake granola bars, one of those with PB or yogurt.


I could easily star in one of those Snickers commercials. RIP Robin 😦 (picture)

Yesterday, after my lovely apple, I blasted my poor last period class with an incredibly technical concept in Greek and ran to my apartment to change for track practice. What I didn’t account for was practice going late, so that by the time I hopped on the elliptical, it was after 5 pm. Within the first minute of my workout, I knew this wasn’t going to fly. After 15 minutes, with a spinning head, I listened to my body and hopped off the infernal machine (why did it have to rain/ice today??? I wanted to walk 😦 ). 15 minutes is obviously better than nothing, but I re-learned a valuable lesson today: fuel your body with the energy it needs.

A slice of dark chocolate with PB, Annie’s Mac n Cheese (with 1/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt instead of milk and butter), and a ton of broccoli later, I was back in action.

It took me a bit to understand what my body needs before and after a workout (and then DURING a workout while training for my 10-miler, which was really weird). Basically, every body (and stomach) is different, but even if you’re starting to run because you’re trying to lose weight, you absolutely have to fuel up for the event. You’re aiming for fast-burning carbs and natural sugars beforehand, and a balance of carbs and protein afterward for recovery. Protein helps your muscles to rebuild after you ruthlessly beat them up (you animal!).

Some of my favorite pre-workout snacks include:

-1/2 or full granola bar (definitely full if it’s a 3+ mi run or a 30+ minute workout);

-1/2 a banana with a little PB or other nut butter;*

-an apple with some nut butter.*

After working out, depending on how hard I went (a 20 minute bike v. an 8-mile long run or hour-long boot camp) and when my next meal is:

-Greek yogurt with trail mix or berries;

-a banana or granola bar with PB (smothered in it, usually…);

-hummus on pita;

-an 8-oz. glass of milk (especially chocolate milk, if it’s around. Post-run is the only time I touch the stuff– I absolutely adore it, and have to hold off or else I’ll drink the whole dang half gallon);

-a couple of hard-boiled eggs with sea salt and pepper;

-a smoothie 🙂


Check out some other suggestions for pre-and-post workout fuel here and here!

I try to eat within 3o minutes of working out, focusing on getting protein and lots of plants in that snack or meal (think: Greek veggie omelette with feta cheese, served with pita). As for eating before a workout, studies have shown that whether you eat 5 minutes or an hour before, the result is the same: you’re getting a nice boost for those squats and lunges. I usually rock a snack literally minutes before running, and although I know that doesn’t work for everyone, it really helps me to feel energized.

The point of even paying attention to this? You’ll feel a MAJOR difference in energy out on the roads, on the bike, or in the pool.

What’s your favorite pre-or-post-workout snack/meal? I’m always looking for suggestions– I’m a creature of habit and descend into food ruts all the time.

Without further ado, grab a granola bar and hit the road for week 2:

Monday: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 on/off for 28 minutes.

Tuesday: 5-7 minutes easy jog.

Wednesday: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 on/off for 28 minutes.

Thursday: 5-7 minutes easy jog.

Friday: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 on/off for 28 minutes.

Saturday: OFF

Sunday: Run 7-10 minutes.

Happy trails!

*Don’t overdo it on the nut butter…you’ll feel it sitting in your stomach during your workout. Blech.


2 thoughts on “Learning to Run (Week 2): Fueling your workout

  1. Pingback: Back Pocket Recipes: Friday Roundup | battleofmarathonblog

  2. Pingback: Things Fall Apart (and learning to run: Week 3) | battleofmarathonblog

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