Here at the Fearless Flying Kitchen, we just love strapping on our sneakers and running for a ridiculously long time. In order to do that though, you need to fuel your your body with enough energy to keep you going. Most runners rely on simple, easily digested carbohydrates to help provide the energy that is needed on long runs. Runners also need to focus on hydration, both from water and also replacing electrolytes (like sodium and potassium) that are lost in sweat, which help with water retention.
Most runners are familiar with the brands of runner’s food, like Stinger, Gu, Gatorade, etc. and while they are definitely a part of our running fuel plan, we sometimes like to think (and eat) outside the box. However, we went on a mission at Trader Joe’s to find fuel for runs, as well as great foods for pre and post workouts.
Caramel Bites (Stroopwafels)
These delicious mini-waffles filled with caramel come from Holland. They are very similar to the Honey Stinger Waffle brand products and are easily digestible. We love having these as pre-race fuel, about 15-30 minutes before a long run.
19 Cent Bananas!
Bananas at Trader Joe’s are a steal! You really can’t beat the price at 19 cents per banana. Granted, most races provide bananas at the finish line, this is a great item to have on hand at home to give your body a boost of potassium.
One of our favorite treats, both on the road and off. At least when we are running, our bodies are using them immediately. We normally chew on sports beans or gummy bears on long runs when you want something to chew on. This is a great option that doesn’t have artificial colorings or harmful preservatives.
Freeze Dried Bananas
This is a great, not messy option to bring on the road with you. Lots of sugar, lots of potassium, all quickly absorbed for energy while you are running.
Who here sweats? WE DO! Normally, if you are running in hot weather, or aren’t adapted to conserve sodium, you will likely loose a lot of sodium in your salty sweat. Sodium is very important for runners because it helps retain water, and loosing too much sodium in sweat can upset the fluid balance in your body. This super salty snack is portable in individual packs, perfect for taking on a hot, trail run.
Healthy fats and sugars and protein – Oh my! We love trail mix for a post-run recovery snack. Trail mix has a nice blend of protein, carbohydrate and fat that will help your body rebuild protein and glycogen stores. Trader Joe’s has so many varieties of Trail Mix to suit your taste buds. When we want a basic and healthy mix, we’ll go with theGo Raw Trek Mix. When we want some chocolate in the mix? Tempting Trail Mix (although not the best for transporting). The best part? Individual bags to take on the go!
Date and Nut Bars
Again with the post run fuel – Very similar nutritionally to trail mix, just blended together into a bar (or, bite) form. This is similar to Lara bars, but with chia seed (Omega 3!)
While this might not seem like the best fuel for runners, I find that at around mile 17, the simple carbohydrate fuel just doesn’t settle well in my stomach. I start to crave savory foods and chewing. Beef Jerky is a great option, because it is salty, tastes savory, and you can chew it for a while (you could even spit it out if you really wanted to, but it is so delicious, why?)
Other important things you’ll find on the aisles of Trader Joe’s
- Bottled Water – Such a great deal. Comes in a variety of sizes to meet all your hydration needs.
- Chocolate Milk – My favorite post-run recovery drink. The perfect blend of protein and carbohydrates.
- Pasta Noodles (Imported from Italy!) – Pasta is a great way to carb-up the night before a big run. It’s always good to choose something with lots of carbs and not a lot of fat, so a pasta with a marinara sauce is preferential to a pizza loaded with cheese and fatty meats or a macaroni and cheese type of meal.
- Honey Nut O’s – This is my favorite pre-long-run breakfast. It’s the only thing that doesn’t disrupt my tummy. However, everyone is different and tolerates foods differently.