What to eat before a run

A running food guide

1. Running nutrition is for everyone

Whether you’re new to running events or not, running nutrition is important. You might not think it, but it’s not just relevant to elite runners or only those most experienced at long-distance running. Considering your food before running, and having a runner’s meal plan during training, is always important — it applies to anyone and everyone who wants to run faster, run further, and run better.

2. Running nutrition is an event day necessity

Aim for about 1.5–2 hours before your running event start time to sit down to eat. Even though that probably means an earlier wake-up for you (if you can bear it), it’s better to have a well digested breakfast before running than starting with only last night’s dinner.

3. Keep up your running nutrition throughout training too

Since running nutrition is important just before the actual race event, it can’t hurt to apply it beforehand too. Using a runner’s meal plan — or at least thinking about running food — as part of your regular training plan is a good idea generally. It’s also a pretty easy way to feel the healthy benefits from your training, and means you can try and test different foods to see what works for you.

4. Nothing new on race day

Probably the worst thing to happen on your race day is finding out that what you’ve eaten is not for you. If nothing else, you might as well make running food part of your training plan to make sure that you aren’t still in the bathroom while everyone else is crossing the finish line.

5. Breakfast food is good running food

Aside from the generic ‘pasta, rice and potatoes’ running food carbo-load the night before, bananas, as a high-carb energy source, are a classic. Oats and porridge, with a healthy helping of peanut butter and yoghurt can also give you an energy boost during your run. Throw in bagels and a slice or two of white-bread and it’s clear that some of the best foods for runners are everyday foods and pretty normal breakfasts.

6. You don’t have to stuff yourself!

It’s pretty easy to imagine that you need to get as much food energy inside of you as possible. It probably isn’t actually that necessary, and you definitely don’t want to be running with food sitting in your stomach. A higher carb diet does not necessarily mean more calories, but a shift in the kinds of foods you are eating. So, your last big meal could be up to 36 hours before the actual running event kicks off. Still, don’t stuff yourself and try and feel comfortable with your food quantities.

7. You should avoid too many fatty and high-fibre content foods

Be careful of eating too many fatty foods. While some swear by it for runs, overeating could be uncomfortable for you. Food high in fibre though is worse in terms of inside upsets. It’s pretty easy to avoid — it could be as simple as reducing your fibre intake by peeling your fruits, and not eating whole-grain foods or too many vegetables.

8. There’s no need to over complicate

Running gels, expensive energy bars and the like are probably unnecessary, especially for mid-distance runs. You don’t necessarily need to swear them off, but you can keep your running nutrition to stay a relatively cheap activity by not buying them. Plus, if health and well-being are some of your running objectives then the high-sugar content in some energy bars might not suit you particularly well.

9. Every little helps

What should be remembered is that there is no race for which running nutrition is ridiculous. It doesn’t need to have a massive impact — but you never know what might make the difference. Every little helps after all. Now, Let’s Do This.

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