Ambassador Susan taps into the expert nutritional advice of her friend and answers runners most difficult nutrition-based questions!!

August 10, 2014

In my last blog post I wrote about meeting some pretty awesome people when I joined the Forerunners running group in Vancouver. Well, Sarah Cuff was one of those awesome friends I was lucky enough to meet. If you need a training partner to inspire you to get out and there and train hard, then send Sarah a friend request. Sarah has run 15 marathons with a PB of 3:31, which keeps getting faster. She is a Nutritionist (registered holistic nutritionist), personal trainer (CanFitPro) and has started up her own business called Eat2Run ( (Don’t worry – whether you Eat2Run or Run2Eat it will work for you)

Sarah Cuff photo

Sarah and her husband Jeremy recently completed the Eugene marathon in Eugene, Oregon. Awesome marathon if you are looking for a destination race!

I’ve learned a lot from Sarah over the years and one of those things is a respect for my nutrition. When I first started running, if I had a bad workout/race I usually didn’t give too much thought to my nutrition and instead looked more at my training log thinking I didn’t give myself enough recovery or was just tired from work. What I didn’t realize was how much I was setting myself back when I didn’t refuel after a hard workout or didn’t fuel well leading up to workout.

I messaged with Sarah recently and got her advice on some nutrition questions I received from local runners.

Sue: Hi Sarah! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! So lets get started by talking about pre workout nutrition. What do you like to eat before a speed workout?

Sarah: Personally, I like to ensure I’ve eating about 3 hours before the speed workout (either a full meal or a complete snack) and then have one serving of Vega pre-workout energizer with 1 tsp of matcha mixed into water and ice. It gives me a quick carb boost plus some caffeine to enhance performance for that workout.

In general I recommend only simple and carb-rich foods immediately before a speed workout (like a banana). Fibre, protein and fat all have the potential of causing GI distress – not fun in the middle of a hard run!!

Sue: How about before a longer run?

Sarah: I’ll have a bowl of thick cut rolled oats cooked in water (or instant oatmeal if I’m in a hotel before an out of town race) with a few walnuts, hemp hearts and a sliced banana, with a mug of matcha tea with almond milk (lately I’ve been making iced matchas!). I’ll have this 1.5 to 2 hours before running (3 hours if it’s prerace). Immediately before I go out (within 10 minutes of starting to run), I’ll have some vega pre-workout energizer (it contains 100mg caffeine) with 1 tsp matcha powder (~70mg caffeine), and/or a few Clif shot bloks with caffeine or a Honey Stinger gel. You can tell I’m a fan of caffeine pre-run now! It’s the only time I consume caffeine – I avoid it at any other time.

Sue: I’m pretty sure I never saw you with a bottle of Gatorade or PowerAde, do you drink electrolyte drinks?

Sarah: I don’t drink Gatorade or Powerade personally, because I try to use only natural products as much as possible. Anything that has glucose-fructose or high fructose corn syrup, or artificial colourings/flavourings/preservatives I totally avoid because there are so many more natural alternatives.

While we don’t have much of a choice when racing (I mouth rinsed with Gatorade in my last marathon for lack of any other option), when I’m training I’ll drink only water and take gels (which contain adequate amounts of electrolytes).

Not everyone wants to get their carbs and electrolytes from gels though – in that case I’d use a sports drink such as Honey Maxx – or as natural as you can get that still works with your GI system. There are so many options out there! The most important one is to find fuel that works for you. Eating to run is about laying down a strong foundation of foods that are natural and plant-strong, and then ensuring you find a strategy that works best for you on the run – whether that ends up being Gatorade or your own homemade gel or sports drink. Coconut water is a great source of naturally occurring electrolytes and works great for post-run hydration (I use coconut water as a base for my recovery shake).

Sue: What sort of time frame do you recommend for athletes to eat after their workout?

Sarah: It’s ideal to have a recovery shake within 20-30 minutes of completing your long or hard run (or gym workout). You want to refill your depleted glycogen stores asap – consuming carbs within this timeframe is when your body is most receptive to using them properly (to refill your glycogen stores so you’ll have adequate energy for your next workout and you won’t feel so sore the next day).

You want your recovery shake to be about 4:1 in carbs to protein ratio (and little to no fat, which inhibits absorption). Protein actually helps to push the carbs into your glycogen stores more quickly. Here is my go-to recovery shake recipe (as in, this is what I drink daily):

Within 2 hours post-workout you’ll want to have a complete meal with a good source of protein to ensure adequate supplies of amino acids to help rebuild your muscles.

Sue: There are a lot of different yogurt brands out there now and particularly a lot of hype lately about Greek yogurt. Do you recommend Greek yogurt over other yogurts to your clients?

Sarah: It’s true – Greek yogurt is all the rage these days! It generally has a higher protein content than regular yogurts, and can be found in varieties anywhere from no fat to regular fat.

Before I ever recommend yogurt to a client, I first test to see if they have any dairy sensitivities (it continues to amaze me how many do).

If they are okay with dairy, I’ll ask them to try only plain, organic yogurt and hard cheese (and kefir if they choose) – being that these items contain beneficial bacteria (only beneficial if no dairy sensitivity exists). Keep in mind all dairy is high in naturally occurring hormones – this may not be for someone dealing with hormonal issues such as acne.

As long as the yogurt is organic and plain with nothing added (like carrageenan or milk protein concentrate or sugars/sweeteners), then it’s a good choice. Often Greek yogurt are the varieties that don’t have anything added, so can be a good option!

I recommend choosing full fat organic yogurts and cheeses if you’re comfortable doing so. Otherwise go with low fat. Organic helps to ensure the type of fat found in animal products is healthier for us than non-organic (and if the cows are grass fed, will actually contain omega-3 fatty acids).

Sue: Well I know I could use some help with my nutrition, what are some of the benefits for a competitive/recreational athlete in working with a nutritionist like yourself?

Sarah: I received tremendously positive feedback from clients who’ve worked with me – they tell me they are so busy that having me put it all together for them in an individualized manner and just telling them what to do is exactly what they need. You can read about their experiences here –

In general I find many people are confused over exactly how they need to be eating due to a lot of conflicting information and advertising we come across at every turn. I’ve had many clients come to me saying they are pretty sure they are eating healthfully, but are still frustrated for lack of energy / continuous injuries / can’t reach their racing weight / sick all the time / and so on. To finally make progress towards their goals (and reach them) is exhilarating – and for some, something they weren’t sure was even possible.

However, I’ve also had people email me, telling me that they simply began following the advice I give on my blog and put together their own plans, or they’ve purchased my 5-Day KickStart Cleanse and have found great success even without the personal attention. I think it comes down to how much time someone has.

Huge thanks to Sarah Cuff for all the great advice!! Sarah has a newsletter you can sign up for and receive regular tips on how to “eat 2 run” and you can find more information and great recipes at

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