a runner’s pantry

I’ve been asked a couple of times by friends and runners what kind of things I eat during the week and before/after long runs to stay fueled. I still ask this question to runners I admire and read about this stuff constantly. It really does depend on the person. I know now more than ever that there’s no one “right way” to eat. I’m still amazed at what foods fuel some of the best runners I know (ahem, Meghan… PopTarts pre-race!) but if it works, DO IT! If it keeps the miles strong, make it work for you!
For me a couple things are important. I buy organic when it matters, choose items with the least amount of processed ingredients, and I make homemade versions of some things found in stores but with  healthier and whole, ingredients (like these PopTarts from 100 Days of Real Food and Protein Bars from The No Meat Athlete). And, eat sweets!

I do have some key staples and since I finally live alone there’s no more labeling of my food, or only buying what I can cram in next to five other people’s food! Here are the things you can ALWAYS find in my fridge/pantry, no matter what:

Early Mornings:

  • Greek yogurt: vanilla Chobani for me & the dog :)
  • Brown organic eggs & carton of egg whites
  • Unsweetened almond milk: 50% more calcium than milk and no added sugar


  • Quinoa: Great protein, easy to prep and easy to mix with fish, roasted veggies, or even stuff an avocado with!
  • Gluten free OR quinoa pasta: I like to use gluten free pastas the night before a long run when I don’t want the wheat belly feeling the following day. Pastas don’t really work well for me the night before, so I’m not really a “carbo load” gal. I’ve learned it has to be a gradual build up over the week. Great in soups, too!
  • Low sodium beans: black, kidney, whatever… can you say black bean burgers? YUM
  • Jar of gravy (sauce for all you non-Italians)

Fruits & Veggies:

  • Frozen veggies: No one said your veggies have to always be fresh! Frozen vegetables work just as well and can be cheaper at stores. I always keep 5 or 6 bags in the freezer. These are good to mix into soups, heat at the office for a snack, or serve simply as a side dish.
  • The fresh stuff: carrots, kale, a red onion, lemon, strawberries/blueberries, apples, and bananas


  • Justin’s Nut Butter: I’ll take it in all flavors; almond, hazelnut, choco almond, honey peanut butter (you get the idea. Justin’s ROCKS!)
  • Nuts & seeds for snacking: I only discriminate against raw walnuts.
  • Something sweet in my freezer: my current obsession is Almond MMs/frozen banana slices (pulse in a food processor w/ a tsp of PB or cocoa powder= instant ice cream)

The Extras:

  • Red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cumin
  • Vegetable stock
  • Extra virgin olive oil/coconut oil
  • cooking spray
  • whole-wheat flour

By keeping these things handy, I’m able to plug in things recipes call for without breaking the bank by needing everything for a whole meal. These staples go a long way!  Other proteins like fish, ground turkey, etc. I like to buy fresh and use right away so that stuff is on a need-only basis. For the most part I cook at home but I do have my weird take-out night traditions (Thai food the night before a long run). It works for me! haha

What are some of your staples? What foods fuel you?

Healthy heart

8 thoughts on “a runner’s pantry

  1. Great post! I definitely need to experiment with my pre and post run foods. Back in 2005 when I started running 1/2 marathons, I would run on an empty stomach due to fear that I’d end up running with an upset stomach. And for the 1/2 marathons, that worked. Now that I’m training for a full marathon, I know that food will definitely be needed to fuel me for the run. Definitely excited to find the right foods that work for my body.

  2. Thanks so much for reading! Yes, finding the food that fuels your runs and more importantly, make you feel your best, are just as important as logging your miles and hitting your plan. What helped me transition from half to full marathon training was keeping a basic food journal on Fridays and Saturdays only leading up to a Sunday long run. I learned quick what my recipes for success were! Best of luck in your training and future 26.2!

  3. I try and eat the following 3 things every single day: Greek yogurt, baby carrots, and fresh fruit (right now I’m in a grapefruit kick). You know I love my pop tarts pre-LR and the gummy Lifesavers are my favorite for mid-LR fuel. A protein heavy breakfast is my go to for some protein recover post LR!

  4. Sis I think your tummy and mine are psynched up! I’m a baby carrot lifer and recently have traded my oranges for grapfruits! I envy your palette for plain Greek… I have to stick vanilla 😦 I love your PopTart fuel, that would run through me and it makes you PR!! This marathon go-around I’m craving one thing and one thing only after long runs… a juicy BURGER! Come run with me soon… I miss how fast the miles go buy when we chat! (OK and mostly I miss you cooking me amazing breakfasts after!)

  5. I’ve been trying to eat better again recently and at the moment I’m loving two things (usually for a lateish breakfast that keeps me going for ages):
    1) Porridge, Aberdeen style (that’s the north-east of Scotland – I’ve two close friends from there who don’t know each other but both of them make it this way). One cup of flaked oats and one cup of milk. Cook on a low heat (in a non-stick pan), stirring occasionally, until it looks pretty much solid and frankly unappetising. BUT it TASTES lovely. Put in a bowl, add more milk (or if you want to be *really* old school, put the milk in a separate cup and just dip your spoonful in – that way the milk stays cold and it’s a lovely contrast). Sully this tradition as desired….I add e.g. a bit of honey and some sunflower seeds.
    Porridge made with water and/or made runnier and served with blueberries, strawberries and live plain yoghurt is also good, but I’m enjoying the sticky gloopy stuff right now!
    2) Proper free range eggs – from my sister’s beautifully looked after hens (she has a half dozen of them, roaming her croft) – poached on wholemeal toast. It’s like a completely different food stuff from shop bought eggs (even organic free range shop bought) – delicious, with dark orange yolks.
    Mmm. I’m going to eat some now.

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