Fleet Feet Sports PDX presents: Nutrition do’s and dont’s

Kate Cornelius is the Brand Manager for Fleet Feet Sports PDX ­Fit Right. She’s currently training for her first Olympic distance triathlon and the Portland Marathon. When she’s not out for a run, you’ll find her cooking or enjoying the Portland food scene!

Nutrition; it’s a buzzword that gets thrown around quite a bit in the world of running, but how much do you really know about fueling your workout? Proper nutrition is something we’re constantly encouraged to be aware of and focus on, yet many of us are unsure of how to tackle the topic and navigate the many nutritional options available to runners and athletes.

We’re often so hung up on what we should be eating/drinking during our workouts that we forget about before and after. It’s about whole body and whole life nutrition, not just what you eat on race day. For best results, take a look at your diet and fueling plan as a whole.

So what should you be eating for optimal athletic performance? With so the abundance of products available these days, you’ve got options. Vegan? No problem! Gluten free? You’re covered! It can be tough to know what to eat when, so I chatted with our Portland In­ Store Nutrition Guru Jen Jordan to get insight into navigating the sport nutrition world.


It’s important to start thinking about your race­day nutrition far in advance of the race. Even if you’re just planning a workout, you should think of what you’ll want to eat to prepare in advance. Start with thinking about nutrition as a whole; stick with lean proteins, plenty of fruit and veggies, and whole grains. A high carb, low-fat diet (with plenty of protein!) is often recommended for athletes. A healthy diet can be hard to stick with; set goals with your training group and friends to motivate each other.

The day before your race, focus on carbohydrates and protein. Stay hydrated. Stay away from new foods (as they could upset your stomach) and if you have a sensitive digestive system, break meals up into four to six small meals, rather than a traditional three.

The morning of your race/workout, stay away from fiber, heavy protein, and fat. Your body works hard to digest these and may end up diverting energy away from your muscles. Choose a bland breakfast—a banana and oatmeal or bagel and jam are good options. Try to finish eating at least two to three hours before your workout. If you want to fuel up closer to your workout, try a bar (such as by Hammer, ProBar, or Picky Bars). A little sugar can get you going, but don’t overdo it (Honey Stinger Waffles are also a good choice!).


Once you’re moving, you need to be aware of your nutritional needs and be ready to refuel on the go. So what should you eat while you’re running?

For a run under an hour, you’re unlikely to need nutrition; however, once you’re going to be running for an hour or more, you should consider bringing calories along for the ride. Gels (and gummy chews, for if you “want to feel like you’re eating,” says Jen) are a very popular option as they’re easy to eat on the go (but make sure you take in plenty of water with each!). Clif Shot Bloks, Hammer Gel, and GU are some of our favorites. Some are higher in sugar than others, some have amino acids or caffeine added; try a couple of brands and see which work best for you!

Other options for during­the­run fueling are nut­based snacks like PocketFuels and honey­based snacks from Honey Stinger.

Jen says: Due to the different sweeteners used (honey, rice syrup, etc), many products have different textures; try a few varieties to find which you prefer. Be careful not to take in too many calories; one calorie burned does not equal one calorie to take in. Calculate your body’s needs based on your own personal factors, such as weight.


Ah, the often ­forgotten post­-workout fuel. I know I’m guilty. You must take in protein and carbs post­workout…your body craves them! Stick to the 4:1 ratio of protein and carbs. Recovery bars are a great way to quickly take in nutrients and start the refueling and recovery process. Recoverite by Hammer (as the name implies) is another great way to recover effectively and start preparing for your next run. While you may think that post­-race free beer is enough, your body will punish you later!

It’s important to start refueling right away; you’ll want to take in nutrition within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Then don’t forget to keep nutrition (and hydration) top ­of ­mind for the rest of the day.

What are your favorite before, during, and after fueling techniques? Is there a product you can’t run without? Let us know in the comments…everyone’s always looking for new things to try! Ready to try something new? Come see Jen every Saturday at Fleet Feet Sports in Portland for Sampling Saturday! She’ll have an assortment of products (nutrition and hydration) for you to try.

Remember, nutrition is only one half of the equation: it’s crucial to hydrate as well! Check back in May for Part Two of this series to learn about optimal hydration.


About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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