Thursday, September 4, 2014

Clean Running Fuel :: Guest Post by Zucchini Runner

Hello loyal readers of MichRun4! I hope you don't mind me popping in for a quick visit, while Michelle and I do our blog swap. (If you want to see her post on my site, head on over to  Zucchini Runner) Michelle and I are helping to spread the word about an up-and-coming local running group #RunEatTweetAZ. As a matter of fact, we met for the first time in person at the inagural #RunEatTweetAZ meetup at South Mountain. I didn't know everyone who was attending, since there wasn't an official event, but when I put 2 and 2 together and realized I was talking to the amazing michrun4 I had been following on Instagram, I got a little excited! I knew she was a running powerhouse so of course I was stoked to get to know her better. If you've never met Michelle in person, she is the sweetest, most positive person you'll ever meet. Injury or not, that girl will be up and running in no time! A new friendship was formed (actually many new friendships were formed) that day. So needless to say, I am very grateful for #RunEatTweetAZ. A big thanks to Jeremy Heath for organizing it!
Now onto the topic at hand... I've had quite a few people ask my opinion about clean running fuel, Michelle included, so it seemed like the perfect blog swap topic. Nutrition is my passion, and I'm currently in the process of completing my Holistic Nutrition classes at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. So please bear with me while I vent slightly at first; it may help you understand why I do what I do and why people ask me this question often.

As a runner, when you hear the words GU, Shot Block, gel, Sport Beans, energy drink, etc. what comes to mind?
Be honest.
Are they necessary evils or something you truly enjoy putting into your body?
When I hear those names, I think sugar, GMO (genetically modified organisms - because sugar is a top GMO crop), peaks and valleys, furry teeth, gut cramps and even dare I say borderline poison for our bodies. (This is where I need you to bear with me...) When we were chasing down animals for food or gathering plants to eat waaaay back in the day or even in the 70's when running became an everyday craze. We certainly didn't need any of those items to keep us going... so why do we think we need them now? Is it all marketing? Is it all just a bunch of hype?
I'm of the firm belief that our society is struggling with the obesity epidemic, because of the human desire to want to monetize anything we can. Food has been the number one essential in our daily living that has undergone the largest pollution. Mother Nature is smart. Our bodies are smart. If you look at a whole, real apple or banana on the molecular level, you will see it is a living piece of fruit. Can we all agree that every living thing radiates and contains a certain amount of energy? Now, how much living energy do you think is in a packaged product, created in a lab, and loaded with simple sugars? The point is, food that is as TRUE to it's natural state as possible, is the way to go in my humble opinion, as well as based on what I've learned and experienced personally.
You may be saying, or asking yourself, 'then why were all these items created in the first place?' Convenience. Ease of ingestion. A quick fix. That is the society we live in. But in the process of trying to make things "easier" we are polluting our bodies with products so far from the way nature intended, that we are simply creating more problems.
So if any of this resonates with you and you've been on the hunt for some more natural ways to fuel your runs, I've got some whole foods suggestions below! I've personally tried all of these food choices, with the exception of the potatoes, but it's up to you to find the right combo for your body!
Medjool dates stuffed with coconut oil
How to use: Remove the pit from the date, and fill that empty pocket with coconut oil that is semi soft. Coconut oil melts at 72 degrees, so this doesn't work for summer fueling! Wrap with aluminum foil (I've found that is the easiest way to access it while running. Skip the baggie or saran wrap...) Lastly, be sure you buy organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil. If you are using multiple stuffed dates, and this will be used during a particulary long run or race, you should also grind some pink Himalayan salt into the center.
Why its good: Medjool dates contain high amounts of naturally occurring sugars, which give you that boost you need to fuel a long run. Since the sugar is accompanied by fiber it absorbs at a slower rate into the body, which helps you avoid the peak and crash of gels. They are also high in potassium. Coconut oil is a medium chain fat, which means it can be used immediately for fuel in the body since it does not store easily in the body.
How to use: Pretty self explanatory, but bananas can be used before, during, or after a run or race. If you want to use them during, you can cut one in half and leave the peel on. Even breaking the peel a bit to get it started, to make it easier to consume while running! You can place it in a small snack baggie if you want to keep it clean, and have a place to stash the peel. This is especially good for trail running, if you have a nice pocket on a hydration vest. ;-) Just beware, you MAY attract some bees.
Why its good: Bananas, like medjool dates are packed with both sugar and potassium. Potassium is good to prevent cramping.
Salted Potatoes
How to use: I haven't personally used this one -- YET -- but I've known quite a few ultra runners who use potatoes as fuel! Simply boil and cut into circles, salt and bag.
Why its good: They are high in calories, carbs and if you salt them you can get some sodium intake as well.
Energy BITS
How to use: These little bits of green fuel are easy to pop at any time! Before, during or after a run or race. You take 30 bits and swallow them with water, no chewing required. You can order them online through (if you want 15% off, use coupon code 'zucchinirunner')
Why they're good: Energy Bits are 100% pure, organic spirulina... well here, this blurb from the site says it best, no reason to recreate the wheel! "Algae was the first plant life on earth almost 3 billion years ago and is considered a superfood because it contains virtually every nutrient. It has over 60% protein content, over forty vitamins and minerals and a more complete amino acid profile than beef or soy beans. It is also one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins, antioxidants and chlorophyll." Pretty sweet, huh?
Lemon Water
How to use: After a run squeeze the juice of one whole lemon into a 20 oz. glass of ice water. Feel free to sweeten it a bit with some raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar.
Why its good: Lemon water promotes alkalinity in your body. Running and putting all that stress and strain on our bodies, builds up a lot of acidity. Treat your body right with some alkalinizing lemon water after a run! It will help balance out the pH of your body.
If you want to get fancy, here is a recipe you can follow:
2 c. water
1 c. ice
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp. coconut sugar or maple syrup
2 pinches pink Himalayan salt
It is tasty and rejuvenating!
I hope some of these ideas have helped you venture into new fueling territory. Get creative and try new things; tell us how it goes! The most important thing to remember with real food vs. the quick fuel is the time it takes to react in our bodies. Give yourself a 15 minute window to feel the effects. Also note the effects will be gradual, so if you are looking for a caffeine-like ZING that won't happen with real food.
Happy running, friends! Let's connect!
My personal blog:
If you want to connect with #RunEatTweetAZ, you can find us on Facebook.


  1. I already do lemon water....yay! And I'm going with dates for my next race for energy. Wish us luck!

  2. Awesome!!! These are FANTASTIC and EASY tips for good fueling during a run!!! I've been wanting to try the coconut oil and dates for a while, so thanks for the reminder!!! No more Gu's for me!!!!!

  3. It will be perfect for the Women's Half in November Kristin! :)