Eating Well to Run Well

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

So often, men and women are pressured to look a certain way by media and social forces: men are almost always cut, and women are nearly always slim. Some of these people come by their bodies naturally or healthily, some via photoshop, and some via more unhealthy methods. To the media I say: screw you! It’s so much better to be active regardless of your physical size than it is to be an unhealthy couch potato. If you’re trying to lose weight for your health via taking up running, that’s fantastic. Just remember that you should strive for health, not a body type or clothing size.

No matter what your motivation to run is, don’t skip food! The more muscle you have, the more energy your body burns. You can’t build muscle without eating well. If you strictly limit your diet or miss meals, you’re going to do your body far more harm than good!

As any engineering student who’s been running on caffeine for too long can attest, what we eat can greatly affect our physical state as well as our mental wellbeing. If you’re running or active, choosing the right foods can become even more important, because running can really take it out of you. There are times where I arrive home from a run so hungry that everything from my towel to my bed frame looks delicious. It’s important to eat the right things before and immediately after your runs and workouts so that your body can perform to the best of its ability and recover afterwards (and also so that you have something to dry yourself with after a shower, and to keep you from sleeping on a mattress on the floor).

One of the most essential things to monitor when you’re running or working out is how hydrated you are. By drinking water throughout the day, you’ll ensure that you’re not dehydrated. If you like to run or work out in the morning, wake up a little earlier than you think you need to so that you can drink water in case you’re dehydrated. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, can help you replace electrolytes lost through sweating. They also give you a carb boost if you need one.

It’s best to eat something about an hour before your run. Some people may need to eat sooner, and others may need more time to digest. Stick to simple foods! Think BRAT: bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast. Half of a bagel with peanut butter or bananas with Nutella are my two favourite choices. What you pick and the amount you eat should depend on a) how hard your workout is going to be, and b) what type of workout you’re doing. For example, if you’re going to go run 20 miles, you’ll probably want to eat something more substantial then a small cup of applesauce. If you’re going to do intervals or sprints, it might be better to stick to lighter foods that won’t weigh you down or make you feel really full.

If you want to avoid vomiting during your run, stay away from dairy when choosing your pre-run snack! For most people, anything milk or cream based – including cheese, yogurt, creamy sauces like alfredo, and creamy salad dressings – will result in stomach cramps and nausea. From personal experience, it’s also best to avoid marshmallows, chilli, burritos, an entire bag of carrots, fuzzy peaches, and Swedish berries. Don’t ask. You’re better off not knowing. Just consider yourself warned.

Make sure you refuel with protein-rich food no later than 15 minutes after your run or workout. This window of time is essential for getting food into your body so that your muscles can recover and get stronger. One of the best options you can reach for is chocolate milk – it has the perfect blend of sugar, carbs, and protein to help repair your muscles after you’re finished.

If you’re having difficulties making healthy food for yourself around school and running, there are a few tricks you can use to make things easier for yourself. If you like sandwiches for lunch, make a few ahead of time on the weekend. Just don’t add any tomato or dressings until the day you’re going to eat it, otherwise you’ll end up with soggy food. Likewise, you can make dinner meals in bulk on the weekend and then freeze them for later. I like to make a big pot of foods like chilli, curry, or rice and black bean salad on Sunday afternoon so that I’ll have meals at hand later in the week. Check out the recipes for all three of these meals at the end of this article.

As always, all are welcome with the Accelerated Masses. It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to running or have been running since age 10. We’re a welcoming, encouraging, and supportive group. Got questions about running? Email We meet on Mondays at 6 pm and Saturdays at 11 am.

Run happy!

Next IW issue: Take Your Marks

Simplest Chilli on Earth

  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 small can of corn. Any kind is good… except creamed.
  • ½ to 1 lb of Lean ground beef, ground turkey, or Ground Round (if you use ground round, add it at the very end!)
  • 2 750 mL cans of whole or diced tomatoes
  • One package of chilli seasoning

Dump the beans and corn into a colander and rinse them. Then add the rinsed beans, cans of tomatoes, and chilli seasoning to a pot and crank up the heat to boil off some of the extra liquid. Boil it less if you like your chilli soupy, and boil it more if you like it like a stew.

Meanwhile, brown the beef (or turkey, or chicken). Add this to the pot with the tomatoes, beans, and corn, slam a lid on it, and turn the heat down. Simmer this on the stove for a few hours. If you’re using ground round, add it about 20 minutes before serving.

You can also make this chilli in a slow cooker. Brown the beef, rinse the beans and corn, add the seasoning, and dump it all in with the canned tomatoes. Turn the cooker on to “low” and let it sit for about 6 hours. Longer is usually fine, too. If you’re using ground round, only add it in the last 20 minutes of cooking or it’ll get rubbery.

You can add pretty much any veggie you want to this: mushrooms, green peppers… make it your own!

Mango Chutney Chicken Curry

  • 1 can of chick peas (if you’re making a vegetarian meal, you can skip the meat make this 2 cans of beans)
  • Chicken breast, skin off and bones removed
  • Red pepper, sliced into strips
  • Snap peas
  • 1 jar of mango chutney
  • Curry powder (add as much as you want. I usually stick with about a tablespoon)
  • Water
  • Corn starch
  • Brown rice

Slow cooker method:

Cut the chicken breast into bite sized pieces and put it at the bottom of your slow cooker. Rinse the chick peas and dump them on top of the chicken. Put your red pepper on top of the chick peas. Mix the curry powder, water, corn starch, and the mango chutney together and pour on top of the layered ingredients. Put a lid on the slow cooker, turn it on low, and let it cook for 6 hours. About 40 minutes before serving put the snow peas in. Serve over rice.

Stove-top method:

If you don’t have a slow cooker, cook the chicken in a big fry pan on medium-low. Then add the red pepper and chick peas and cook for a few minutes. Mix your sauce together and pour that over top. Cover your pan and let it simmer to let the extra water boil off. Add the snap peas and cook them until they’re still a little bit crisp. Serve over rice. It won’t be as good as when you make it in a slow cooker, but it’ll still be pretty tasty.

Rice and black bean salad

  • Black beans (try to find something low in salt)
  • Feta cheese
  • Green pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • Brown rice (try to grab the 15 minute kind so that you’re not cooking forever)

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Meanwhile, rinse the beans, chop the peppers, and crumble the feta cheese. Once the rice is done, mix in the beans, pepper, and feta. This tastes great as-is, but is also really tasty with a bit of Greek or Italian dressing mixed in. You can enjoy it hot or cold.

Leave a Reply