Pre run fueling has been one of the absolute hardest and honestly most confusing thing for me. Up until three years ago I never ate before I ran. For some reason I was convinced my stomach would be too upset and I would be too full to actually enjoy my run. I would simply drink a large cup of coffee and head out the door.
Tyler is religious about eating before he runs. When I first started dating him, he made absolutely sure he had something to eat before he ran. The problem with that? I had no pre run food in my house. I remember going to the grocery store and buying oatmeal bagels, basically any stereotypical runner food for specifically for when he came over. Bless him, he tried so hard to get me to eat breakfast but I refused. I was set in my ways. I just watched him eat (in horror) while I had my pre run cup of coffee.
Flash forward to my first official meeting with my coach, Pete Rea. One of the initial questions he asked me was what I ate before I ran. I didn’t think it was odd I didn’t eat before I ran, so I simply answered nothing.
That was the wrong answer. Pete went on to explain exactly why I should eat before I ran
- My body was has been fasting for essentially 8 (or more) hours while I was asleep. *Dr. Benardot from Georgia State suggests a eating small snack within this window of sleep! He suggests that the small snack has a low glycemic index (something like a handful of almonds).
- I needed enough fuel to power me through my workout without crashing.
- By not fueling I’m forcing my body to release the stress hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. This is dangerous because high cortisol levels are destructive to lean muscle mass and bone!
So this lead me to my next question: what the heck do I eat before I run?
I’ve tried almost everything. Eggs, overnight oats, oatmeal, bagels, toast, plain almonds, bars, yogurt, cereal, grits (that one was weird), a banana, protein muffins, you name it.
None of these things were sitting right. After my experimentation, I went to Pete and told him there was absolutely no way I would be able to eat before I ran. My stomach would get too upset and I wouldn’t able to train properly. His next question: when are you eating?
Well, I’m a huge fan of sleep. I’m fine with rolling out of bed, putting my running shoes, drinking coffee, and heading out for my run in less than 20 minutes. Not surprisingly, that’s definitely not what you’re supposed to do – especially if you’re going to fit breakfast into that timeline.
So this leads me to today. It took about a year, but I’ve established a routine that works incredibly well for myself. We have practice every day at 8:35, so I wake up at 6:45 and eat breakfast by at least 7:30. This gives me a little bit of time for my food to digest and my stomach to get settled. My go-to is oatmeal with cinnamon, honey, and walnuts BUT I don’t always stick to that.
As I mentioned in my Q&A with Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit:
“Basically I just go for some sort of carb and some sort of protein and don’t overthink it”
(I really don’t overthink it – I had dry cheerios with almonds before a big PR this year!)
Honestly, as long as you give yourself enough time to digest, you’ll find out that as long as you’re fueling yourself with a carb and protein you’re good to go. It might take some time to figure out what exactly works for you, but it will be worth it! I have felt 100% more energized on my runs and I don’t feel as depleted afterwards.
Foods to avoid
One piece of guidance I can give is to avoid simple sugars before exercising. Focus on getting complex carbs (for example whole grain bread instead of white bread) to avoid a glycemic spike that leads to a crash.
Here are a few things that have worked well for me:
Pumpkin pie overnight oats (minus the chia seeds):
Gluten Free banana walnut muffins (I’m not gluten free but I like these!):
Generation UCAN pre workout mix + snack bars
Here are some things that have worked for my Instagram friends:
Earlier this week I asked on an Instagram Story what everyone’s go-to pre run food was. Here are some of the answers I received!
- Toast with peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with granola
- Bananas and peanut butter
- Cashew butter and crackers
- Gluten free toast with coconut almond butter and maple syrup (I want to try this one!)
- RX bars
And my own concoctions (not really recipes!):
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon honey
1 pinch of cinnamon
Fresh or frozen fruit (whatever I’m in the mood for at the store – in this picture it was raspberries!)
Basic toast with almond butter and honey
1 slice multigrain toast (soy free)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
It will take some experimenting to find out exactly what works for you, but once you find what works you will notice a bump in energy while exercising. As long as the meal includes one complex carb, one source of protein, and consumed roughly an hour before exercising you’ve done everything right!
This blog post was solely to cover my pre run fueling. As I mentioned previously I covered a bit on pre run with Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit. You can find the whole interview in this clickable link. Afterwards, hang around on Teri’s blog (A Foodie Stays Fit) to get tips on how to get clear skin (something I REALLY pay attention to) and for some great stocking stuffers/gift exchange ideas!
Topics To Look Forward To!
Topics that will be covered in future posts ♡
- Pre race fueling
- Mid race fueling
- Pre workout (interval training) fueling
- Post run fueling
- Post workout (interval training) and race fueling
- Caffeine and running