Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Running Mistakes: Proper Fueling

This week's topic for Tuesdays on the Run is Foolish Running Mistakes.

A perfect chance to revisit 5 lessons from running I haven't learned. Yeah, 2 1/2 years later, and I am still making most of these mistakes - not fueling properly, not running at a good time of day, forgetting sunscreen or BodyGlide, and not stretching.

Today, I'd like to talk a little more about the first lesson I still haven't learned.


As a runner, I can get too focused on pounding the pavement or trails.
Too focused on pace and speed work.
Too focused on getting it done.
Too focused on the physical aspects of being a runner.

I sometimes forget about the importance of fueling my body properly.

Raise your hand if you've ever...
  • ~ Eaten poorly the night before a race or a long run (or even a short run)
  • ~ Drank too much {alcohol} or too little {water}
  • ~ Stayed up too late or got up too early

Yep. Yep. And Yep.
I know I'm not the only one who raised her hand for each of these.

Good nutrition, hydration, and sleep are essential for all athletes - even the most casual of runners.


We've all heard the sayings - You can't outrun a bad diet and Weight loss takes place 80% in the kitchen and 20% in the gym.
But it's hard to remember that, at least it is for me.

It's not all about the calories, but more about making good food choices. Good food choices increase your energy, promote muscle growth, and aid in muscle repair.

Focus on eating nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and veggies.
And protein. Lots of protein.
Focus less on fats, added sugars, and empty calories. You'll feel stronger, have more energy, and overall perform better.

Here is an amazing list of 15 of the best foods for Runners from Runner's World magazine.


It's the essence of life, right? Not only is it more than 50% of our bodies, we use it for everything! To drink {obvs}, to cook, to grow our food, etc, etc, etc.

Think of water as your body's transportation system - everything flows a little better when it's fueled properly.

The first thing I think of when I think of the importance of drinking water is that it flushes out toxins, but there are so many more benefits! It also helps to regulate body temperature. It increases energy levels. It helps prevent cramps and sprains.

Pretty much everything works better when it's well hydrated.

This is something I constantly struggle with. If you do as well, you may find these 5 tips on how to drink more water helpful.


Sleep is all too often the forgotten fuel. Skimping on sleep can derail you - even if you have your nutrition and hydration in check. Your body requires sleep to rejuvenate, restore, and repair. As runners, we are hard on our bodies physically, so we need a bit more sleep than the average person.

We hear so much about Stage 4 of sleep, REM Sleep, but most of the good stuff happens in Stage 3, Restorative Sleep. Aiming for 8-10 hours of sleep each night, on a regular schedule, will help restore and repair your body so you can perform better!

Consistent bouts of good sleep will also reduce the risk of injury. What runner doesn't dream of that?

Sometimes good sleep is out of our control. Like, the night before a race. I don't know about you, but I'm usually filled with all kinds of excitement & anxiety that prevent me from getting a good night's sleep. Don't sweat it! As long as you've been sleeping well in the days and weeks leading up to the race, you'll probably be fine and headed towards that shiny PR. Check out this article from Casper for even more tips on how athletes use sleep.

If you're having trouble sleeping, make sure you consider all of that factors that help provide a good night's sleep. Is your mattress old? A good mattress will help you get the sleep that your body deserves!

Who really has the time for an extra hour or so of sleep? YOU DO! If you make time for your run and strength training and everything else, you need to make time for proper REST as well.

Don't think of REST as a bad word. 
Think of it the same way you think of food and water - FUEL!

It's A-OK if you need to skip a workout or run occasionally to catch up on some ZZZs. In the long run, your body will thank you for it and perform better on the next one.

I'm far from a perfect runner and I often need to remind myself of the importance of properly fueling my body with good food, nutrition, and sleep. It's important to remember it's not just about logging those miles.

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Do you hate the idea of rest, or do you embrace it?
What is your most common foolish running mistake?
How many hours of sleep do you average a night?

I'm linking up with MarciaPatty, and Erika for Tuesday's on the Run.

*This post was inspired by Casper but researched and written by me. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Please note I am not a registered nutritionist or health professional.

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  1. When I was running longer distances, I'd set mile markers for when I'd fuel up. I always saw the mile signs, so I knew when I'd be fueling next.

  2. I usually sleep 7-7.5 hrs/night. But I feel a cumulative fatigue as the weeks wears on. By Thursday or Friday I'm zapped.

    1. Some weeks, like this one, I feel that zap already on Tuesday! Not so good the day I posted this. LOL.

  3. All I can say is there is not enough time to get all the sleep I need or want! Next to running, it's my favorite thing to do.

  4. I'm still trying to find the best ways to fuel during a run. It's crazy that I still can't get it right, lol.

    Sleep is so important! I wish i could get more sleep during the week!

    1. Yeah. I definitely haven't figured that out yet, either. :-)

      You and me both, chica. Sometimes it's so hard to go to bed early enough.

  5. ah better sleep! My hubs and I are currently in a battle as I lobby for earlier bedtimes

  6. I seem to sleep less the older I get. I sleep deeply I think, but not for as long as I might like. Good read, thank you!

    1. I definitely heard that it's not uncommon to sleep less as we get older. I'm not looking forward to that, because I <3 sleep. :)

  7. I usually get 7 hrs of sleep and I've been using my Vivofit to track my sleep pattern. I know it's not completely accurate but it does give me an insight as to when I have more deep or more light sleep. You're right about restorative sleep - I've heard that even if you get a less ideal amount (7 - 9 hrs) as long as most of the time was spent in restorative sleep, you'll have plenty of energy for the next day.

    1. I think any insight into sleep patterns is better than nothing. Of course, I don't use a tracker. Maybe I should?

  8. I definitely don't get enough sleep. So much to do, including sleep, and so little time!

    1. I absolutely agree! But I need to try to make more time for it. :)

  9. I've been making a super conscious effort to get more sleep this week and to drink a lot more water. I have a 20-miler coming up on Sunday! Need to be in a good rhythm.

    1. That sounds perfect because I bet you'll be filled with nerves Saturday night. Best to prepare all week.

      Best of luck at your race!

  10. I need to be better at water and sleep. I've done a decent job about reducing my sugar and alcohol intake (not that it was a lot, but a glass of wine with dinner adds up). Always room for improvement!

  11. I have done all of the above wrong and I have paid. This is a great reminder of what's important!