Runners tend to fall into two camps when it comes to fueling up before hitting the road: Those that need to eat almost immediately before they head out, and those that need to wait a good hour or two after fueling up before even going out the door. I fall into the second camp, for sure. As a novice runner it took a little while before I figured out what was making my stomach cramp up during my runs. I would either eat too close to a run or eat the absolutely wrong kinds of things. I still slip up on occasion, like the other afternoon when I ate a large bowl of “zesty” type french fries about an hour and a half before running. Stupid, yes. But they were so good! Usually I do pretty well. The other evening I was heading out for a quick before dinner run just as my husband came home from work. We had planned that he would watch the kids while I went out for about 35 minutes, but as soon as he pulled into the driveway I noticed my stomach was rumbling for a snack. I hadn’t done a good job with the timing of my last meal and so I had waited a bit too long and now I really needed something to eat. He suggested I have a chocolate chip cookie. He’s had a couple good experiences with cookies on long runs and thought it might be just the pick me up I needed.
Now I am the chocolate chip cookie’s number 1 fan, but I was skeptical. I wasn’t feeling particularly great to begin with as I had a cold and was really lacking energy. But I figured it was better than nothing, so I nibbled one down, threw back some water and was on my way. I quickly settled into my comfortable warm up pace, but before mile 1 I picked up the pace and even scooted up a hill that I normally struggle a bit with. By mile 2 I was into cruising speed and had it all together- the legs, lungs, everything was completely in sync with not a whole lot of effort. I just kept going faster. By the time I reached 4 miles I was back toward the house, and I would have kept right on going if I’d had the time, but I promised to be back for dinner. I couldn’t believe how good I felt, especially considering how not so good I had felt prior to the run.
Now, I don’t know for sure it was the cookie. I will need lots more cookies (and perhaps several different varieties of cookies) to properly test my hypothesis. All I know is that one of those babies beats a GU or other standard runner’s fuel any day of the week. No sticky mess, far more palatable and a heck of a lot less expensive!
I’m curious to hear what other runners favorite “go to” snacks are prior to or during a run or race. And maybe even more importantly, what foods you especially want to avoid during a run. For instance, I don’t reccommend noshing on a big salad before you hit the street. You know, unless it’s a cookie salad.