The Burning Question: What do I eat before a run?
The answer depends when you want to run. Running first thing in the morning requires a different approach to when you run later in the day. So deciding on when you are training dictates what to eat and when, sounds easy right? Well the problem is that when you are planning your run around a busy work schedule, your brain, leg muscles and stomach & your will power don’t always stay in sync.
Training in the AM
If you're an early riser and enjoy the prospect of running first thing in the morning to blow away the cobwebs and start the day fresh then often the question is to eat or not to eat.
Ideally you should eat something in order to provide energy and fuel to your muscles and brain to enhance your performance and maximise your run. However you want to be sure that what you eat doesn't cause you to be sluggish or nauseous.
Pre-Breakfast Snack Options:
- Green smoothie: include something like kale, kiwi, coconut water and cucumber
- 1 banana and ½ tsp of spirulina mixed with water
- 2-3 oatcakes with nut butter of your choice
- Red apple slices with a nut butter of your choice
All of these snacks provide enough carbohydrate for fuel, however are relatively low in fat and protein so you don't feel stuffed! Trying to eat approx 30mins – 1hour before running can be difficult for some, especially in the morning but this will allow your snack to be digested and enhances your overall performance.
Training in the PM
When training in the afternoon and evening the key is balancing your meals throughout the day in order to maintain motivation in to the later part of your day and to stabilize your energy levels to be able complete a good run later.
Motivation and will power are like two muscles and they have a tendency to weaken as the day goes on and often this weakness can be detrimental to maintaining a consistent training schedule.
Some tips to maintain motivation and stabilize energy throughout the day include:
- Never skip breakfast – start the day as you mean to go on. Fueling your body first thing in the morning sets the standard for the day
- Make lunch your main meal of the day – This should be your biggest meal of the day including complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats
- Always have a mid-afternoon snack – this should be approx 1.5 – 2hours before your afternoon or evening run. This is key as it will provide enough fuel for your run but it will also stabilize your energy so you are not ravenous and eat your way through the cupboard while making your evening meal!!
Afternoon Snack Ideas
- 2-3 oatcakes & nut butter of your choice and 1 apple/banana
- Handful of dried fruit and handful of nuts (brazil, cashew, walnuts & almonds)
- Overnight oat jar: Include oats, berries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds & milk of your choice
- Slice of rye bread with ½ avocado mashed and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds
- 1 hard-boiled egg, ½ avocado and 2-3 oatcakes