Navigating Nutrition for Trail Running: What to Eat Before, During, and After Your Run

Welcome back, trail runners! Whether you're gearing up for a quick morning run or preparing for an ultramarathon, understanding the best nutritional practices is key to epic performance and restful recovery. This post takes a deep dive into what to eat before, during, and after a trail run, and we'll highlight some honed hydration tips and perfected gear from MudGear to keep you going strong, no matter the distance.

1. Pre-Run Nutrition: Fueling Up for Energy and Endurance

Fueling Your Body

Starting your run with the right nutrients in your system can make a significant difference in your energy levels and endurance. Here’s how to fuel up effectively:

  • Carbohydrates: Opt for complex carbs like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, or a banana about 1-2 hours before your run. These foods provide a steady release of energy throughout your run, unlike simple carbs which will release early and leave you drained.
  • Protein: Include a moderate amount of protein to support muscle function. Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts can be great choices.
  • Hydration: Begin hydrating the night before your run. Drink water consistently and consider an electrolyte drink if you’re facing hot conditions or a particularly long run.

2. During the Run: Maintaining Energy and Hydration

Keeping the Tank Full

What you consume during your run depends on the length and intensity of the trail. Here’s how to stay energized and hydrated:

  • Short to Medium Runs (Under 90 minutes): Water should suffice for these runs. If it’s particularly hot, an electrolyte-infused drink can help replace lost salts.
  • Long Runs (Over 90 minutes): Supplement your hydration with energy gels or chews that contain fast-acting carbohydrates. Every 45 minutes is a good rule of thumb.

MudGear’s Hydration Gear

Don’t forget to gear up with MudGear’s hydration packs, which are perfect for long trail runs. These packs are designed to be lightweight and comfortable for quick sipping on the go.

3. Post-Run Nutrition: Recovery and Replenishment

Rebuilding and Rehydrating

After your run, the goal is to replenish energy stores, repair muscle tissues, and rehydrate your body:

  • Carbohydrates and Protein: Aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. A smoothie with fruits, spinach, and a scoop of protein powder, or a chicken sandwich with veggies, can be perfect post-run meals.
  • Rehydration: Continue drinking water and electrolyte drinks to fully rehydrate. Monitoring the color of your urine can be a good indicator—aim for a light straw color.

For more snack ideas, check out this video created by our MudGear Athlete and Registered Dietitian, Sports & Performance Nutrition Coach Corinna Coffin. 

Conclusion: Eat Smart, Run Better

Understanding what to sip and munch before, during, and after your trail run can dramatically improve your performance and recovery. By applying these tips and rocking gear like MudGear’s hydration packs, you’re setting yourself up for success on the trails. Ready to run smarter and harder? Lace up those shoes, pack your nutrition, and hit the trail!

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