Natural Foods for Running Long

In my quest to follow the paleo diet, and still run long distances, I need to determine good foods to eat during long training runs or races without resorting back to GUs or Shot Blocks, etc. I found this list of 10 natural race food alternatives from

Race nutrition can be an experiment if you aim to fuel with whole foods as much as possible. It’s important to look for food that is natural, compact, easy to carry, and tastes good. These 10 race foods fit those criteria. Give them a try when training for your next race.

1. Dates

These can be used for making your own energy bars, or can be eaten on their own. They contain natural sugars and simple carbs that will keep you running over long distances. They’re also easy to chew.

More: 5 Foods to Try This Spring

2. 100% Natural Coconut Water

This drink provides the electrolytes your body needs to replenish the minerals you lose through sweat. It also tastes great and is extremely refreshing on a run.

3. Homemade Baby Food

Use a variety of fruits and vegetables to make your own “baby” race food. Anything is fair game, so get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to blend flavors that you will love. Just mush everything up so it’s easy to digest. You can pack it in small Ziploc bags and just suck it out like a gel when you’re ready to fuel.

More: How to Fuel Your Body for Energy

4. Sunflower Seed Butter

This has a great nutty taste and is a source of both healthy fat and protein. Sometimes you can find these in small gel-like packs that are easy to carry. Otherwise you can pack your own in small Ziploc bags. A good brand is Sunbutter, which is completely peanut-free and gluten-free.

5. Frozen Grapes

Frozen grapes are just as sweet as candy. They cool your mouth and they’re easy to carry. Freeze small bags of grapes and carry them on your long runs.

More: 5 Best Carbs for Athletes

6. Homemade Gels

Making your own gel is fun and saves you money. Here’s a recipe to try.


7 and 1/3 tablespoons of honey
3/4 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses
1/10 teaspoons of table salt

7. Watermelon Dipped in Salt

The watermelon rehydrates you while the salt replenishes your electrolytes. This is a refreshing and satisfying snack that can immediately boost your energy and help you pick up the pace.

More: 7 New Super Foods


8. Dehydrated Fruit

I bought my own dehydrator so I could make a lot more of this. Dehydrating fruit allows it to keep longer and it’s easier to carry. I also find it sometimes makes fruit taste sweeter. With a dehydrator you can make your own natural fruit rolls, and you can even dehydrate meats and vegetables. You could almost carry entire meals. The possibilities are endless.

9. Honey

Use raw, natural honey as a sugar source. Your body will appreciate the fuel and the good quality honey can also boost your immune system.

More: Eat Green to Run Better This Spring

10. Navitas Power Snacks

These are just a combination of fruit and nuts. They come in small bite sized pieces and they are gluten-free and dairy-free. They’re less chewy than a bar, but not as watery as a gel. I enjoy the consistency and the flavors are delicious.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods during training and long runs. On race day, always stick to what you know will work.

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