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Earlier this week, I read an article about what runners should eat while training for a 10-mile race. One piece of advice it offered: Take a banana and bagel to eat before the start of the race.
I don’t mind bananas. I have a bunch of them in my kitchen. But the few times I’ve eaten one before running, I tasted leftover banana for the entire run. Gross. I’d much rather drink a glass of whole milk before a run (which I’m sure has some of you thinking “gross!” too).
That’s because there is no one runner diet. There are no absolutes except that you’ll probably want to eat something if you’re going to run for a long time. That was the big challenge of writing our How to Feed a Runner Guide, which is why it’s more about setting up guidelines to help you figure out what works for you than dictating absolutes. I didn’t want to declare that one way is the right way when there are as many right ways as there are runners.
It’s not a finite process, either. I’ve been running for more than a decade and I’m still experimenting. While writing the guide, one expert suggested eating dates for pre-run fuel, so I tried it. That worked, but then I tried dried apricots, which I liked better. When my nephews did not finish all of the Wegmans animal cookies I had gotten for them to eat on a vacation, I tried a few before a five-mile run, and now they’re a pre-run staple. And there’s nothing I love more than nonalcoholic peach cider after a long, hot summer run.
But that’s me. That may not be you. The only way to figure out what works for you is to try things out — and long before race day, so you know whether a banana before a race is a good idea for you, or makes you say “gross!” like it does for me.
What’s your running fuel that might seem less than conventional? Let me know — I’m at @byjenamiller on Twitter.
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Jen A. Miller is the author of “Running: A Love Story.”