Usually if I’m going out for an early morning run, I will try to wake up an hour and a half before so I can eat a banana with nut butter (lately, almond butter instead of peanut butter) an hour before I start my run. If I am going for an early afternoon run, I am able to eat a full meal and have plenty of time to let it settle and digest before running. There is this in-between time, though, when I have more than an hour before to eat, but not quite 3 hours to digest a full meal.
That is where smoothies come in: they are easier to eat and digest, and fun to make. On a typical day that I am not running in the morning, I like to have a smoothie for breakfast and will pack it full of fruit and the occasional green veggie. But before a run I like to keep my smoothie a lot simpler, so it provides the fuel I need without the possibility of upsetting my stomach. The solution I came up with is a smoothie that incorporates some staple ingredients of a vegetarian/vegan athlete’s diet.
To keep it simple and straightforward, I use homemade rice milk, a banana, a few dates, ground flaxseed, and chia seeds. On occasion, I will use nut butter for some added texture and good fat, and some fresh peach or pineapple if I have it. I prepare rice milk ahead of time (based on Scott Jurek’s recipe I follow a rule of 1 part cooked rice to 4 parts water) and have it stored in my fridge, ready when I need it. Other homemade milks such as almond milk or cashew milk can be substituted, although for now I prefer the extra carbs I get from the rice. If I have a little extra time I will slice a banana into 1 inch pieces and throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes beforehand. This is certainly not necessary, but is another way to get the smoothie a little colder. Another thing to note, I use fresh Medjool dates when available and in season, but dried dates work fine as well.
Depending on how large of a smoothie I am up for, I will add the desired amount of rice milk into the blender. Throw in the banana and dates and blend until smooth. Then add in about a teaspoon each of the ground flaxseed and chia seed and blend just enough to incorporate. Drink it and head out for a run! You won’t feel heavy but will feel fueled enough to sustain a medium distance run no problem.