Chicago Run is excited to be partnering with Jen Hayes, USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach, 200 hour Certified Yoga Teacher, and owner/operator of the Chicago-based company FIT Coaching, to provide our marathon runners with important tips and advice! 

Properly fueling before, during, and after your training sessions is incredibly important for both performance and recovery. Add in clean every day nutrition, and you’ll be all set for your next big race. There is so much information available to read on nutrition, it can be overwhelming and contradictory at times. I like to keep it super simple and focus on clean, whole foods. Let’s get into how I like to fuel my body, and what I recommend to my athletes…

As athletes, it’s important we view food as fuel for our next session or race. We are always athletes, not just when we are training, so we have to eat as athletes all the time (that also goes for sleep, recovery, etc., but that’s a whole different topic!). I like to fuel my body with lots of protein, a moderate amount of fat, and carbohydrates within certain windows of my training sessions. We should be eating every 3-4 hours, and each meal should contain some protein and fat (especially if you are eating a carb!). Here are a few of my favorite “meals”:

Breakfast #1 & #2 (who eats just 1??)

  • Full fat plain greek yogurt with banana, cinnamon, and walnuts - this is a post workout meal (hence the banana = carb)
  • Eggs with spinach and avocado (sometimes I sprinkle on a little nutritional yeast - YUM)
  • Leftover meat + veggies + nuts (not kidding)

Lunch

  • Pulled chicken with avocado (I mix them together almost like a chicken salad) on top of salad
  • Tuna also mixed with avocado on top of mixed greens
  • **depending on the cycle of training I’m in (a larger volume block), I may add in sweet potato or butternut squash with my lunch**

Dinner

  • Lean ground turkey or chicken with onions, garlic, and greens
  • Red meat 1-2x/week with asparagus
  • Salmon or other fish 1-2x/week with sautéed veggies 

Snacks

  • Celery with nut/seed butter
  • Hardboiled eggs

On to training/racing nutrition. Again, I like to keep it clean and focus on whole food. I find that I have less GI issues when I eat real food. For any training session longer than 60-75 minutes, we need to start fueling. My general rule of thumb for runs longer than that time frame is to take in roughly 200 calories per hour, and around 750mg of sodium based on the heat. Liquid intake is very personal (as all of this is), we don’t want to over or under drink. Finding your right amount is what training sessions are for. Here is my long run routine…

Pre-run: 1-2 hardboiled eggs + 2 brown rice cakes with nut/seed butter. Bananas are also a good sub for the brown rice cakes. I’ll also sometimes switch it up with medjool dates mixed with some cinnamon. 

During run: start your fueling right away, especially for long/hot runs. I’ll alternate between water and sport drink (Osmo Active Mango is my fav!) which is about 100 calories/hour then take in another 100 cals with a few dates mixed with cinnamon and celtic sea salt, Clif Margarita Shot Blocks, or a GU. All of that is up to you and what sits well with your stomach. Try out a few options during your long runs this summer so you are all set for race day.

Post run: this is the time for protein and carbs. I talked about fueling windows with your carbs. However long your session was, that is how long your window is to take in carbs. If your run is 2 hours, eat carbs 2 hours before and 2 hours after. Besides that, proteins and fats! My favorite post run meals include eggs with sweet potato or quinoa or back to breakfast #1 of FF plain greek yogurt with banana, walnuts, and cinnamon.

Hopefully this helps give you some more ideas on how to fuel yourself all day, everyday. Please feel free to email me at fitcoachjen@gmail.com with any nutrition questions!

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