Legs, legs, legs - I need to feed them!

Monday, my run was much less enjoyable than usual. I ran 10k, and it was my second fastest time, but from the outset my legs didn't feel right. They felt awkward and pretty lifeless. I pushed myself through the run, and have to be satisfied with the performance - time was good, and the pace pretty even right through it.

It did leave me wondering why they were like that. I've been working myself pretty hard, pretty much since graduating at the end of March. My times have been gratifyingly tumbling, and I've run as far as 13K now. Reading up on matters of the running kind, I've come to the conclusion that I've been taking my body for granted; neglecting it, even. I read that it's important to feed your body after a run - even, ideally within 30 minutes. You need protein to repair muscles, and carbs to replace the glycogen stored in those muscles. I'll be taking more care from now on.

I went for a run this morning after a day's rest. My legs felt great (here, you can feel them if you want!) full of energy and almost bouncy. I intended a slow run, just to enjoy it and get the feeling back, but I loped off, and it felt so good that I ran and ran. That endorphin stuff must have been a'pumping, because I just pressed on, easing off a little in the middle as I began to feel it, but then pushed hard for the last km. My "easy" run turned into my second fastest, 30:10, and contained my fastest mile.

I got home, immediately had a banana and a cup of green tea (supposed to be good for runners), and there's some cold pizza in the fridge that has my name on it!

My run - connect.garmin.com/modern/a...

19 Replies

  • I've always had half a banana before running then the rest when I get back. I've discovered recently that an egg before and a banana after work even better (I just shove the egg in the microwave in a teacup and scoop it out with a spoon - only takes 30 secs). And lots of water, natch.

  • I generally don't eat before running; I don't think that's a problem, and I don't seem to have fluids/hydration problems (I've taken to going to a bed with a pint of water and drinking that through the course of the night). I think egg is a better source of protein than energy.

    There's more to this running lark than just....... running!

  • Yes - I don't know what it is about an egg before I go out, but every time I've had one I seem to have more life in the old legs!

  • Great pace there Steve and fab time. I need to eat before and after a run otherwise I have no energy and after runs chocolate milk does it for me (I make my own with milk and cocoa whisked with a few drops of vanilla. Yum) but yes it is very important to eat within 30 minutes to feed the muscles. I have read in Runners World that chocolate milk is THE best thing for runners to consume after a run as it contains all the nutrients needed.

    Also, are you doing any strengthening exercises for the legs? Foam rollering too as that releases tension and knots. Yeah, who knew running was so complicated?

  • Interesting thought about the chocolate milk! I haven't been doing exercises for my legs, as apart from the strange Monday, they've always felt ok. Probably ought to, though.

  • I always look forward to my glass of chocolate milk when I get back! (Cold milk with some nesquick powder for me when I am home) :-)

  • As you say, there is more to this than just the running. As with most things, what works for Peter won't necessarily have the same effect on Paul and we each have to find what is best for us.

    I couldn't imagine running before breakfast and tend to have a banana before and immediately after each run but I do tend to find a lack of appetite for a couple of hours afterwards.

  • Strange, isn't it? I have no problem running before any food in the morning, and generally don't feel hungry afterwards (though I did on Monday). Interesting too, having told people you can't really lose weight just through running, over the last month, my weight has been slowly going down. I think, now I've upped my mileage (I'm doing more than 100km a month recently) that I've passed a threshold in terms of the calories I'm burning. I'm not deliberately dieting or otherwise restricting my calorie intake, but I do eat very healthily. According to my Garmin calendar, I'm burning around 3000 calories a week by running.

  • Yes you will and it soon starts to show! You'll keep losing it too which is why you have to maintain a healthy diet to keep things on an even keel

    If I do a long run I always have a meal organised for immediately afterwards even on race day. Or I make some healthy sarnis and an energy bar and take them with me in case I can't get back home within 30 minutes. My post long run fave is home made chilli, with Manomasa tortilla chips and home made guacamole. Slurp.

    Choc milk is lovely. The shop stuff can be cruddy so be careful if you buy it

  • Fab distance and fab speed! You're going great guns! I run evenings apart from Park Run. Park Run day I have a banana and a coffee early so that I'm good to go because I did start to feel 'empty' legs at some stage. I always eat when I come back but it's just a wholemeal roll toasted with spring onion, cheese and Worcester sauce - mmmmm.... if I'm hungry later I eat later too, but the toasted cheese helps me out.

    I'm struggling with the longer runs at the moment - started running with a hydration belt on Mondays - I'm out for a couple of hours and that's toooo long not to drink! first week it was really awkward and my body didn't respond well to be asked to drink and run at the same time but this week it was OK. My problem is fuelling the longer run - legs reached empty at about 6 miles on Monday, picked up again afterwards, but really felt I could have used something.... the previous Monday though I'd tried jelly babies and found that there must be a real art to eating and running - my body didn't enjoy it all, so this week just tried to make sure I'd eaten well during the day first. Need to come up with something though....

    It's exciting! There's so much to learn :-)

    Good luck and keep up the fab work!

  • Thanks!

  • Also I think if you run before breakfast, you need to think about what you eat the night before. 2 gin and tonics just doesn't do it!

  • Well dear, if two gin and tonics doesn't do it, then try with three ;-)

  • I have to sheepishly disagree.


  • I started running at 7am a few weeks ago and asked in this forum about what to eat before a run. I actually wake at 7am, change, drink a 1/2 pint of water, do my stretches, and then walk to my starting point (5 mins from my front door) and start from there. Not having any problems with the legs, or hunger on the run either. Once home a shower and then breakfast as usual with the family. I used to do a mid morning run and have a banana and a pint of water afterwards, but the early morning runs suit my job a lot better. Currently running 5km in 28:07

  • Good time - respect to you for that.

  • When you start to run further than an hour, it's really a good idea to bring water and food with you to help the body cope with the demand. You also need to feed your body during the run. Gels, while not particularly yummy, is a very practical (albeit quite expensive) solution.

  • In three weeks or so time, after my 10k event, I start my HM training. That soon introduces longer than 1 hr runs, so I'll have to othink about that.

    Went shopping today and got more eggs, and some smoked haddock. That sounds like a decent after-run snack!

  • I have toast and coffee before a run and plenty of squash afterwards. I'm usually too tired to eat after a long run, I must make the effort to do so.

You may also like...