Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred fuel, used to power our muscles, brain and central nervous system. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and when we exercise, these stores begin to deplete. But we can easily refuel again when we eat after a workout.
However, once you start running for longer than 90min, you need to start topping up your carbohydrate stores while exercising or you will begin to have less energy, get muscle fatigue and become less mentally alert. Carry on without refuelling and you will ‘bonk’ or experience ‘hitting the wall’, when you are absolutely spent and cannot go on.
But what should you eat? Some runners rely on gels, sweets and energy drinks but when that’s not enough to keep you going you need some real food. The following recipes have been created with this in mind. They are all high in carbohydrate and low in fat and fibre to get the energy in without causing gastrointestinal issues.
Don’t forget that if you are going to eat on the run you need to train your gut as much as your legs. And crucially, stick to whatever works for you (not anybody else) and never try anything new on race day.
These can be wrapped and tucked into a pocket or backpack and are perfect for eating on the run.
Makes one 20cm square baking tin (around 10-15 bars)
2 bananas (the riper, the better)
100ml skimmed milk* (see below)
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g dried bananas
25g banana chips
½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat an oven to 180˚C and lightly grease a 20cm square baking tin or line with parchment paper.
- Place the bananas in a large bowl and mash them with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully blended.
- Press into the bottom of the baking tin and bake for 30 min until golden. Wait to cool before cutting into bars.
*This recipe is very versatile and you can choose to make a softer or crunchier version depending on your own preference. I think the soft version is easier to digest but if you prefer a crunchier texture simply reduce the milk by half or omit it entirely.