Things to Eat During a Long Run for Natural Energy

Natural foods can provide long-lasting energy during your long run.

Natural foods can provide long-lasting energy during your long run.

The long run is a staple when it comes to training for a long distance race. In order to cover the distance of the long run, it's important to refuel along the way. While sports drinks, gels and bars are a convenient way to refuel, real food can be just as beneficial, giving you the natural energy to power you through your run.

Eat on the Run?

Runners new to long-distance running may find it hard to imagine eating while running. But fueling on the go can be the difference between getting through your long run feeling well and not getting through it at all. While you can rely on your already available blood glucose and stored muscle glycogen to power your shorter workouts, these energy sources dry up the longer you run. Therefore, it's important to replenish them by eating easily digestible carbohydrates throughout your long run.

Foods to Eat For Natural Energy: Solid Foods

When it comes to natural energy-packed foods that are good for the long haul, the possibilities are endless. For quick sources of sugar that are easy to carry, you can bring jelly beans or gummy bears. For healthier options, runners can carry dried fruit, banana chunks, raisins, grapes or dates. Heartier foods that are easily portable are pretzels, sandwiches with jelly or honey and fig bars. All of these are carbohydrate sources that are easily digestible and quick sources of energy.

Foods to Eat For Natural Energy: Liquid

For the runner that doesn't want to physically eat something while running, a good alternative would be to eat a somewhat liquid carbohydrate source. A good example of a semi-liquid carbohydrate source that provides natural energy is honey, according to Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Honey is an easily digestible form of glucose that is inexpensive and easy to carry. Another option instead of sports drinks would be coconut water. Coconut water has less sugar than most sports drinks, but it still packs enough carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to boost to your energy.


Finding the right foods to fuel your long run will take time and experimentation. Start out with foods that will most appeal to you, which will increase your chances of actually eating them while on the run. And be sure to have water with any foods you eat while running. According to registered dietitian Monique Ryan, most foods eaten while running are concentrated carbohydrates, and diluting them with water will help ease any potential stomach issues.

About the Author

Jennifer Gill is a health educator, certified running coach, licensed sports nutritionist and writer. As the Founder of Sole Health and Wellness, she develops and implements individual, group and corporate running and nutrition programs. She has contributed to several local and national publications on nutrition, physical activity and weight management including a health information service from the National Institutes of Health.

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