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Posted on May 11, 2011 in Working Out | 41 comments


I’ll try to keep it short & sweet this morning, friends, but I just wanted to pop in and tell you all about my OUTDOOR RUNNING EXPERIENCE yesterday! As I’ve mentioned before, since I started running to lose weight I have trained almost exclusively on the treadmill.

Obviously this has worked to my advantage so far, because it enabled me to complete not one, but two 5Ks, and I’m gearing up to do my third in just a few weeks. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say in a million years! But… as the weather’s been so nice lately, and since 5K races don’t exactly take place on a treadmill I knew it was time to up my outdoor training.


My biggest issue has always been pacing myself outside. On a treadmill, I can set the speed level to 5.0 and just go, not having to worry about speeding up or slowing down if I’m not running at an appropriate pace. As I found out the hard way (several times, haha) I unfortunately can’t program the sidewalk. I was taking off like a bullet and getting winded in like, 0.2 miles! Oops! So I asked you all for advice on how to deal with that and there was a pretty common theme that came out of your responses. Enter: Garmin.


I always knew that getting a GPS watch would be the best solution to my pacing issue. But they can be really expensive, so I didn’t think it was really an option. So when my sister mentioned that her husband had his old GPS watch sitting in a “to be donated” pile in their apartment, I jumped on stealing that bad boy for myself. Finally! An accurate way to measure my pace without having to run with my phone in my hand (though ironically, I did still end up running yesterday with my phone in my hand so I could take advantage of my new stellar workout playlist. I really need an armband. Know of a good one? I have an iPhone 4.)


So yesterday I pounded out 1.77 miles on the streets of Falls Church City. Hollah! I know that’s like chump change in terms of mileage, but seeing as I haven’t really broken out the running shoes for much lately it was a good run for me.


It didn’t really occur to me to pause the timer at lights and while waiting to cross the street, etc, so the timing on the watch is 23:40 but I ended up with an average pace of about 11:30, which includes the 7:05 sprint I did from the street corner to my front door. Heh. I was definitely looking to take it nice and easy, so it worked out perfectly! Plus I have the added bonus of having inherited the exact same running watch as every other blogger out there, evidently. I feel so… official. 😉

So let’s talk fueling your run. What do you eat before you run? I know I’m not exactly running long distances here so I’m not talking running fuel like Shot Bloks or those gel things or whatever you crazy people eat when you’re running like, 15 miles in one go (holy moly, can you EVER imagine me doing that? I can’t!) but I mean before you hit the trail. My BIL (brother-in-law if you weren’t sure of the abbrev, hehe) says that he can’t workout with anything in his stomach. I’m still experimenting but I’ve found that I start to feel sick VERY rapidly if I both A) don’t have anything in there, and B) have too much in there (but both of those are probably pretty normal, right?) In your experience, what have you found works best for energizing you but not weighing you down, stomach-wise?

PS – Check out my first Daily Eats post from yesterday evening – it’s something I’m trying out. Take a peek if you’re interested in what I ate yesterday (fair warning, it wasn’t superawesomefantastic but you’ll see why.) Let me know if you think blogging all of my daily eats is a good idea — even if it’s just a good idea for me. 🙂


  1. Gretchen! Congratulations! Running outside is a huge step and the Garmin will help you SO much. You are already kicking asphalt out there! Right now focus on keeping your heart rate up for a duration of time, not the distance. Working out for 30 minutes is working out for 30 minutes whether you ran 1-5 miles! You are doing such a great time. As far as food, you just have to play around with things unfortunately because everyone is different. I know a lot of people who eat a bagel with peanut butter. I eat a Cliff Bar, which is like a granola bar, because they have lot’s of protein and carbs to give you energy for the run. Sometimes I will eat a banana but most of the time I will eat a Cliff Bar or a Power Bar. Good luck with your experiments! We should run together after work one day. Pick a day and I will bring my stuff. I take it at a nice, easy pace so we can have fun with it! It’s a great way to distract you from running when you have someone else there. It’s helps with motivation to keep running also! Anyway- congratulations again on getting in the miles outdoors!

    • We MUST run together after work sometime!! And yeah, I definitely know people that go for Clif Bars or Larabars before a run because they’re super energizing, but at the level I’m currently running I probably don’t need to take in that many calories beforehand since I won’t be burning that many during! When (read: IF) I start training for longer runs I’ll definitely keep those in mind though.

  2. Good for you for running outside! I need an armband too with the same phone as you! You look fierce in that picture!

    I normally eat 100-150 calories 1-2 hours before my afternoon workouts! This could be a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and lowfat plain yogurt (light drizzle of honey), hummus and wheat thins, laughing cow cheese wedge + wheat thin, or an apple. It really depends on what I’m in the mood for! It also depends how large my lunch was and how soon after it I’m exercising!

    • Hehe, thanks Grace!! Yeah I think that your idea of a couple hours beforehand and just 100 – 200 calories would be good for me. At this point I’m not burning extreme amounts of calories running since I’m not doing hugely long distances or anything, but regardless I definitely want to make sure I have the energy not to get discouraged, right?

  3. You inspire me so much to believe that I too one day will be running AND losing weight.

    I’d love to see your daily eats. As I am in the beginning of my healthy journey…it’d be super helpful for ideas on eats.

    • That is so amazing to hear, Ky! You’re going to do awesome — it’s all about taking the small steps. I’m still taking baby steps on the way to a healthy lifestyle, obviously, since I’m still working on the running part of things myself! I’m so excited for you 😀

  4. I usually run about 2-3 hours after my lunch and my 500-600 calorie lunch is enough to keep me going.
    If I run in the morning or after an extended period of not eating, I’ll usually have a couple of crackers or dates before I hit the pavement (or treadmill). Dates are the best, in my opinion- I think it’s something about the sugar.

  5. I usually run about 2-3 hours after my lunch and my 500-600 calorie lunch is enough to keep me going.
    If I run in the morning or after an extended period of not eating, I’ll usually have a couple of crackers or dates before I hit the pavement (or treadmill). Dates are the best, in my opinion- I think it’s something about the sugar.

    • I’ve heard that dates are good pre-run and during-run food! Like nature’s shot bloks, I hear. Come to think of it though, I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a date by itself before, haha!

  6. Running any distance is awesome! I’m glad you are getting outside.

    Usually before a run I’ll have something like 1/2 banana or a piece of bread with some PB on top. Those foods sit well with me, as does oatmeal. Jason on the other hand seems to run best without any food in his stomach. I can’t do that!

    • Yeah I just don’t understand running on empty — I’ve tried before and not only did I have 0 energy, it made me feel sick to my stomach! Bleh!

  7. I run with a New Balance arm band for the iPhone 4! It works well…the iPhone is just so dang HEAVY! I like having lots of music to choose from, but I’m thinking of getting a shuffle for outdoor runs. 🙂

    • Yeah I considered that too… but I do also like having my phone on me when I’m out running. The paranoid part of me, I guess, fearing that if I go out without it I’m going to like trip and break my leg and have to crawl/hobble back to the house just to call 911. Hahahahaha!

    • …to CARRY my iPhone in…

      • Ooh, that looks great. I’ll have to consider that one f’sho!

  8. Gretchen! Congrats on your outdoor run! Isn’t it fun? Maybe a little? 🙂
    I have recently from indoor/road running to trail running and the switch is amazing! Karsten and I did a trail race the beginning of April and I’m pretty much hooked. The reason I mention that though is the idea of “fueling your run”. I never ate or drank anything immediately before or during my runs while training for this 25k (I know a lot farther than you want to imagine right now) but then when I got out there running during the race I was drinking water to stay hydrated, not eating anything (because it made me feel sick, and i am not used to it) and after 2 hours i completely BONKED. I threw up the water I’d been guzzling, and had no fuel stores whatesoever to keep going. It was not a fun experience….(in case you’re wondering, long story short I finished the race doing the run walk method and kept some shot blocks and lifesavers down. then i ate a huge hamburger when i finished, haha)

    SO, my advice to you at this point is…dont worry so much about fueling your run, but about RE-fueling afterwards. If you feel like you have to have something in your stomach before running, I’d recommend a bannana (light) or a small amount of carbs. Re-fuel with protein after a run, no matter how short it is. And just to put it out there, if you ever start to train for a “long” run (more than an hour) then start getting used to eating while running! Yikes its hard for me.

    Good luck with continuing the outdoor running! I’m proud of you! 🙂


    • Meg! Thaaaaanks. Hahahahaha, maybe one day I can contemplate dreaming about running 25K. Bahahahahaha. But tell me, what exactly is the difference between just regular outdoor running and trail running specifically? Just that it’s… on a trail? Sorry if it’s a dumb question, I’m just such a running newb!

  9. I always have a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter or a half cup of kashi cereal at least 30-45 minutes before I run. When I do long runs of 10 miles I bring a Gu with me. For me it’s about having something in my stomach beforehand or I have zero energy after like, a mile.

    • Yeah, I think for me it’ll be about getting the timing right so that I have energy but don’t have food actively in my stum.

  10. Wow! HUGE congratulations on running outside! I was forced to make the transition to working out outdoors when our treadmill broke directly under my feet actually lol. I’m the exact same way when it comes to fuel before working out. If I have ANYTHING in my stomach directly before I run I get sick but with nothing I also get sick. I read something recently though that an 8-oz glass of low-fat chocolate milk is the BEST think you can give your body 15-30 mins before a workout and 1 directly afterwards. Look it up, apparently this is the drink of the moment. I’m sure some time of chocolate almond milk or soy milk would be totatlly sufficient 🙂

    • Hmm, interesting! At the very least it’s an excuse for me to go buy some chocolate almond milk hehehe, and if it works that’s all the better! 😀

  11. Yay for a local blogger, just found your blog through HTP. I’m by Old Town Alex.

    I so can relate – was over 200 and now I’m at 160 and continuing to lose. Once I started running outdoors there was no turning back. The treadmill just isn’t the same! I get to run on the GW parkway trail and it’s such a lovely run.

    I have the same Garmin too, love it! If you’re ever looking for a running buddy or want someone to join a race, let me know. Congrats again!

    • Yay! Northern Virginia loooooooooove. And yes! I would love to meet up for a run sometime! Maybe after I can up my mileage a little though… so I’m not dragging you down so much. 🙂 I’m so excited!!

      • No worries! My standard run is 3 miles/day but sometimes it’s 1.5 🙂

        Training for my 3rd half-marathon now so I’ll be logging long runs soon.

        Love the blog.

  12. Oh and for food – Trader Joe’s sells these wonderful whole wheat sandwich thins that are 50 calories a slice. A sandwich thin with a schmear of almond butter and some banana always do the trick for me!

  13. Awesome job on the run! And I LOVE my garmin. I need to dust it off, ive been running inside wiht all the snow etc.
    I usually eat a bagel thin, or arnolds thin wiht PB and banana on top. It fills me up, but doesnt weigh me down. Sometimes I eat oatmeal, but that can be a huge rock in my tummy on a run haha

    • Man, sandwich thins w/nut butter + banana are apparently most people’s food of choice. I definitely need to stock back up! I <3 my bagel thins so much I’ve run out! Back to the grocery store for me, I guess (I sense tomorrow’s post theme… hehehehe)

  14. Yay congratulations on the run outside!!!! I remember my first run outdoors after building up my running solely on the treadmill and it was ROUGH. Don’t downplay the mileage – be proud of every .01 mile!

    • Well knowing that maybe I can become an incredible runner just like yoooooou one day!! A girl can dream, eh? 😀

  15. Short run fuel-wise, I like: Medjool Date dipped in pb, energy balls (recipe on my blog), or even 2-3 energy chews like shot blocks or whatever. They’re quick and easy sometimes. 🙂 A few bites of banana works great for me too, in a pinch!

  16. Hey Gretchen! My personal preference is a chocolate protein shake before a run. I mix almond milk with a 50/50 whey/soy protein powder. It’s yummy 🙂 I have also done a variation of that with one scoop of peanut butter and 1/2 a banana, which is so good it is practically dessert, but that can get heavy on my stomach if I’m working out hard. Congrats on running outside. I bet you’ll be doing your first half marathon by the end of the year! 😉

  17. Looking impressive, kiddo!! Keep it up!!!

  18. Way to go on the outdoors run! Soon you’ll want to do all your runs outside and forget all about the treadmill 😛
    When I don’t have that much time to digest before working out, I go with banana and some nut butter or a granola bar. If I add bread to the mix I have to wait a little longer before working out. Smoothies are good too because you can control what you put in them!

    • yeah now that the weather’s getting warmer I definitely have noticed my longing for smoothies going up. Good call!

  19. The mini Clif bars are great for not filling you up too much for a short run. They come in boxes (I’ve seen them at Whole Foods and Target) and have 100 calories each.

  20. I usually have peanut butter on toast before any run. I think they’re the right mix of carbs and protein for me.

    As far as an armband goes, I don’t use one anymore because it made my skin itch. Instead, I put it and my car keys in a Spibelt.

    Congrats on the outdoor run!

  21. Just curious if you have tried any other type of GPS running watch, or why do you love your garmin? I am in the market and I just dont know what to get.

    I had the Garmin 305 BUT i hate how it went dead so quickly.

    any advice would be great! 🙂

    • I just recently was given a New Balance GPS watch that I haven’t tried out yet, but I’ll let you know how I like it. I have the Garmin 305 because it was free (a hand-me-down from my brother-in-law) and I do like it, but it’s REALLY big. If you don’t like something taking up your entire wrist, that model might not be the best. That said, it’s very user-friendly!

      • that NB gps runner SUCKS. I got one thru NB employee program (I work for a clothing/footwear store) anyway… it was not user friendly at all so I am in the process of getting my money back..

        i did have the 305 and liked it.. EASY to use… but i thought the battery was crap so i returned it..

        Thank you for your thoughts.. and I see that the 305 is no longer listed on garmin’s site.


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