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  • Writer's pictureJackie K

On the road and need to eat? How runners can stay "on track"

I recently spoke with an athlete who spent a lot of time on the road. And I mean A LOT. Like all day a lot. And while over the last ~18 months, many of us have been spending more time at home than we used to, that is really starting to change as the world becomes more and more "open" and "normal" again.

You might think that you can't eat healthy if you're always on the road -- after all, fast food isn't "healthy", right? And gas station food is all "junk"?

But what if there ARE healthy options out there? And what if you can still eat in a way that nourishes your body AND helps you meet your goals -- even if you're always on the go?

This goes for all of you who travel a lot - for work, for races, for family, for fun - AND for those of you who are always on the go between work + family commitments.

So even if you only spend 7.5 hours a day at home (and you're sleeping for 7 of them) and you have barely 15 minutes to yourself, you can STILL fuel your body and your goals.

What should you eat?

  • Make sure you're eating healthy carbs - they help maintain your glycogen stores and keep you energized. Plus, low blood sugars can cause a mental fog which is never a fun feeling, especially if you're driving or traveling!

  • Don't forget to eat protein. Many snacks are high in salt, sugar, and/or fat but are low in protein. But as runners, we need protein to repair and maintain muscles stores but also keep us satisfied between meals (as in, not get too hungry!)

  • You still need some healthy fat. They will keep you satisfied so you don't feel the need to snack all the time, but they also give you energy.

  • Choose the balance that works for your goals.

Stay hydrated!!

I know it is not fun to have to stop to go to the bathroom all the time when you're driving, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't drink anything! Your body still needs fluids. Most of the time water will do the trick to keep you hydrated.

If you have to eat at a fast-food place or restaurant

  • Mexican or Tex-Mex - Choose a soft taco or fajita with lean protein (tofu or chicken for example) + beans + salsa

  • Fast food - Go for a grilled chicken or fish sandwich with fruit (usually available for kids!) and baked chips or an egg/cheese on an English muffin

  • Deli - Get a broth-based soup (minestrone, beef + barley, or chicken noodle for example!) and a sandwich on whole grain bread with veggies + protein.

  • Italian - Try a veggie pizza on thin crust with a lean meat like chicken or Canadian bacon

  • Asian - Go for grilled protein (like tofu, shrimp, or chicken) with veggies and brown rice. Add some broth-based soup if that sounds good!

  • Gas station - Load up on some of the items listed below. You might be able to get some hot soup, a bean burrito, a turkey sandwich, or even a salad with chicken!

Plan ahead and pack some food

Yes, this will take some planning ahead. You'll have to take time to think about what you want to eat, how long you'll be gone, what you will have access to (as far as a microwave or more ice for your cooler, etc), whether you're going to be running soon or not, what you might be in the mood for... the list goes on.

  • Pack a bag of non-perishable snacks

- Jerky

- Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, etc)

- Trail mix (with nuts, dried fruit, cereal, pretzels, etc)

- Applesauce or pureed fruit pouches

- Dried fruit

- Pretzels

- Whole grain crackers

- Granola bars (watch the sugar content)

- Popcorn

- Dry-roasted edamame

- Peanut butter packets

- Bagels

- Protein shakes

- Tuna or chicken in foil pouches

- Dry cereal

  • Pack a cooler with stuff that needs to stay cold... and lots of ice 🧊! Many of these don't require utensils, which is a bonus!

- Hard-boiled eggs

- String cheese

- Yogurt (try the squeeze pouches if needed!)

- Fruit

- Protein balls/bites

- Sandwiches/ wraps/ pitas (with meat + cheese, hummus + veggie, peanut butter + jelly, etc.)

- Baby carrots or other chopped veggies (try pepper strips, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, etc.).

- Cottage cheese

  • If you have access to a microwave

- Individual cups of soup

- Individual cups of oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit

- Ready-to-eat meal pouches, like pasta or lentils

Whew! That's a lot of ideas! What are your favorite foods to pack with you when you're traveling? Do you plan ahead and take snacks and meals on the road with you? Or do you just go with the flow and buy food as you need it?

Getting the hang of eating well on the road or with your busy lifestyle can be really difficult. Everyone has unique needs and lifestyles, and figuring out how to use those

to your advantage in order to reach your goals can be tough. That's why I work hard to help runners learn how to fuel better so that they can increase endurance, improve their fitness, feel better, and run easier. Using my Best Runner program, I can help you do this too - schedule a free call with me today to find out how.

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