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Running on Food: Staying Healthy on the Go

By Heather

Running On Food Logo This article is part of a popular series on Nutrition for Runners.   Heather from the blogTrials of Training, has offered her expertise in Nutrition to runners in the Lounge to pass along information on recipes, nutrition, and running/food related questions.  She has her BS in Nutrition from Penn State, she is currently working to be a Registered Dietician, and loves to help runners with their questions.

Past articles can be found in the Nutrition and Hydration section and Recipe section in the Lounge.

Last weekend I traveled over 1800 miles to run a half-marathon with my sister. This was the first time I’ve ever gone so far for a race, and with traveling comes quite a few obstacles to overcome before tying those laces and toeing the starting line!

Dinner in the airport on Friday marked the beginning of my eating-adventures. I knew that the weekend would include many meals out, but wasn’t ready to compromise a good run for not-so-good food. Since I travel a lot, I have plenty of go-to tips for staying healthy on the Go…..

Bring the essentials, if you can!

My pre-Long Run and pre-race snack/breakfast always revolves around bread and peanut butter. Lately I’ve been pretty hooked on Whole-Wheat bagels. Yes, I could’ve packed both of these things. But, since I knew my family would be there (and they were driving, not flying!), I asked my Mom to supply the essentials! She did so happily, and I had what I “needed”.

Some things that are easier to pack include CLIF or Luna bars (or any “energy” bar) for snacks, pre-race fuel, dessert, etc (however you like them!). These are also good to have on hand in case hours go by before you can grab a substantial meal while traveling.  I always bring snacks; you never know what can happen while traveling, or what will be available to you.

Know what the options are.  If you’re in a new city, do a little research and/or ask around! Know what your restaurant options are so you can pick something that sounds good to you, and something that will get along well with your stomach.

Decode the Menu

If this is a pre-race meal, I can’t emphasize this enough – Know what works for YOU. Don’t try anything too out of the ordinary, as you can’t predict how it’ll agree with the body (or not) during your run the next morning!

When dining out, these tips will help you eat healthier in general. A few of them are especially important to consider before a race!

Fried / battered / breaded : typically translates to high-fat and

Grilled / broiled / roasted : otherwise known as “dry heat” cooking methods, and usually much healthier options!

Filet / Flank / London Broil – these are the leanest cuts of steak!

Red over White – Red pasta sauce is much healthier, contains more nutrients and much Less fat than the white stuff!

¼ lb or 4 oz – that is ONE serving of meat! So, beware of those ½ lb burgers, or 8 oz steaks!

Romaine vs Iceberg – Spinach and romaine salads contain more nutrients! Think “darker green” lettuce.

Veggies: while these are a healthier substitute to most “side” choices, be careful before a race! This food group is typically high in fiber (and pretty low in sugar, compared to fruits) and can definitely cause some stomach issues when taken in excess. Don’t omit them completely! Just be sure to balance veggies with protein and healthy carbohydrate choices. Remember that the body needs a variety of nutrients and energy sources to help you perform at your best!


What kind of tips do you live by when traveling for races/running,
or just in general?



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