Fueling a Runner

My husband is a runner. That’s a synonym for ‘crazy,’ in my thesaurus. He picked up running back in 2009, but really became serious about it in 2014 when he ran his first half-marathon. A few months later, he ran a second and then a third. He’s now training for a full marathon, which is 26.2 miles of craziness.

To stay healthy and fueled, he has to eat a pretty specific diet, so I’m trying to incorporate them into our weekly menus a little more. There’s nothing too weird or out there, I just have to remember a few certain things.

  1. Friday nights usually mean pizza and a movie as a family, but that’s on hold for the moment. Saturdays are usually my husband’s long run for the week and a bellyful of greasy pizza won’t do him any good. Instead, Friday nights have become pasta nights. I’ve been experimenting with different pasta dishes and found some great recipes from Melissa over at No. 2 Pencil, including her One Pot Cajun Chicken and Sausage Alfredo Pasta.  I usually include garlic or Italian bread, or rolls of some sort, as well as a salad or veggie. So it’s very healthy and ‘normal,’ I just have to get it through my mind that “On Fridays, we eat pasta.”

  2. Eat the Rainbow. And unfortunately, I’m not talking about Skittles. (I LOVE Skittles!) I try to buy and have available fruits and veggies in a multitude of colors. I typically make a tossed or fruit salad, or roast my summer veggies. We eat lots of squash and zucchini, fresh green beans, potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, salad, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, grapes and pineapple.

  3. Healthy Snacks. I’ve been buying granola (because I don’t want to make it) in both the loose and bar variety. Dried fruits like raisins, craisins, banana chips and pineapple get sent to work with him. He’ll snack on these on a day he gets up early to run. We also have yogurt to make smoothies, which typically happens on a Saturday after his long runs.

  4. Eggs are one of the best foods for runners. My husband will typically have an egg sandwich on Saturday morning on a bagel. Two eggs, cheese, ham and a bagel makes for a very filling, very heavy, high-calorie brunch. Because he burns about 2,000 calories on these runs, it’s important to have a high calorie but healthy brunch.

  5. Chicken. We have chicken several evenings a week. Sometimes we’ll pair it with potatoes, sometimes with rice. We typically have roasted veggies or a salad. My kids complain that we have chicken too much, but it’s healthy for them as well. I try to mix it up a little and do BBQ chicken legs, or grilled marinated chicken breast, or in a chicken/broccoli casserole or chicken burrito bowls.

I’m sure there are many more ways to feed a runner. Everything in our arsenal is basic, everyday food, so it’s nothing crazy. I imagine we’ll continue in this vein, even after his first marathon. It would be interesting to know if the rest of us have gotten healthier in the process,but without all the running!


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