The Runner’s Food Groups: Water, Gatorade, Gels, & Recovery Drinks

In my experience the Runner’s Four Food Groups can be described as: Water, Gatorade, Gels, & Protein Drinks/Bars, because during marathon training, especially if you have a full time job, there is no time for anything else. If all you need comes in a bottle or packet, then why not grab it and go?

For instance: on any typical day during the past few months (of marathon training) my food would pretty much look like this:

Breakfast: Recovery drink – usually something along the lines of carnation instant breakfast. If I am in a particular hurry Sports Beans with a banana and water chaser top the list of on-the-go foods.
Lunch: Protein bar, water, apple/pear.
Get out of work and get ready to go running:
Pre-run snack: Gatorade or Clif Shot Block or GU chomps – depending on the last time I ate.
Post-run snack is generally more gatorade maybe an electrolyte tab if it was hot or the workout was long.
Dinner: Recovery drink, some cereal or soup. And generally more beans because I am addicted.

During the week there is nothing easier than runner’s food, as I like to call it. It is so simple. Quick carbs and protein expertly packaged in the perfect amounts and ratios to keep your body running. Who cares if sports beans are not suppose to be a go-to snack. So what if protein bars become a mealtime staple. Sure, an orange would be better than a GU when your having your 3 pm sugar low. But sometimes these are not what we have on hand. We have runner’s food. And we thrive on it. The beans, the gels, the delicious Stinger Waffles.

Runner’s food is also very versatile. It goes with most things. There are just so many options and uses for race food. The stinger waffles for example (if you haven’t tried them, they are amazing race food) make an awesome graham cracker replacement for smores. One coworker of mine loves spreading Montana Huckleberry Hammer Gel on her toast instead of anything else. I have witnessed a running buddy adding Vanilla Hammer Gel to her post-run coffee. It is also common knowledge at my work (I work at a sports store btw) that the electrolyte drink Nuun is the most amazing cure for a hangover, not to mention a great stomach soother when you are sick. Most of the gummies are delicious enough to be candy and if you have kids you need to hide them. And don’t even get me started on Sports Beans. I wish the Easter bunny would give me those instead of the crappy ones I usually get. Any other holiday I get running gear *grumble grumble*.

Energy Gels & Chews

I think we have all been there. Grabbing the bar instead of sitting down to a meal. Going for the beans over the apple. As any running article or magazine will tell you about nutrition: you should really eat healthy. Go for the good carbs, the healthy fats, the quality proteins. Yadda yadda yadda, we have all heard it before. I’m not setting myself up for a nutrition rant (or nutritionist backlash), I just thought it was funny that I find myself eating more running fuel than most other things.

But reality check: If you are already stocking your house for running distances and your life is the “rat race” as they say, what’s the harm in packing a little race fuel into your schedule?

Do you find yourself scarfing sports beans or recovery shakes for breakfast?
What about any weird uses for endurance fuel?


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