I'd made the mistake once of going for a run without eating my usual pre-workout banana. Wow, could I feel the difference that day. I kept waiting to get into a groove, but it never came. By the time I got back to the car from my 3-mile run I felt sick, as if my glucose had fallen too low. I swore I'd never do that again.

Since the banana always worked for me, I was content to keep using it. But then our guest speaker on nutrition, Cortney Myer from Akron Children's Hospital, mentioned making her own power balls. I'd never heard of them, but a quick search on the Internet shows these are well known to runners and fitness buffs. Cortney said walkers should take note as well, since they are burning fuel at nearly the rate of runners.

The fun thing is that once you understand the basics of what they should contain, you can make an unlimited variety of them.

I found a recipe on Gimme Some Oven that sounded close to the ingredients Cortney puts in hers: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites. She said she freezes them, then moves one from the freezer to the fridge every night so it's ready for her morning run.

The recipe uses peanut butter, something Cortney said to avoid in general (along with all protein) so it doesn't cause "runner's runs." But she said her own power balls had some peanut butter and it didn't seem to be enough to cause a problem. I think I'll give these a try.

There are 21 no-bake recipes at Run to the Finish http://www.runtothefinish.com/21-energy-bites-recipes.-- so many that you might have enough ingredients at home right now to try one. Even though they are billed "for runners" I guess I'd avoid the ones labeled high protein for the reason Cortney gave.

This story on Runner's World http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition/eat-this-then-run says to consume your energy food about 30 minutes before your workout. They included their own power ball recipe, but also offered these guidelines if you want to craft your own:

"Now is not the time to get fancy with your foods. You’re looking for simple, easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Foods comprised of carbohydrates should break down efficiently and effortlessly in your body, therefore becoming ideal for happy digestion and peak energy and performance.

I recommend whole foods and minimally processed foods as much as possible. This means focusing on fruits and low fiber grains, such as oatmeal. Small amounts of healthy fats, and protein can also be included, like coconut oil and nut butters, especially if duration or intensity will be extensive. This combination will give you both immediate and sustained energy.

Avoid high fiber and high protein, both of which require a lot of energy and time from the body to break down and fully digest. Without enough time you’ll end up with less energy to move and more likely to have some GI upset."

Whatever you come up with, it looks like the correct serving size is about the diameter of a small ice cream scoop. It will turn out to be between 100-150 calories. If you try some, let us know on our Facebook page what you made and how it worked out!

- Paula