I remember the first long run (10km) I did. It was with my Dad, I must have been around 19, and I had no idea what to eat before. I read somewhere that coffee was good, and banana on toast with peanut butter, so I had it all. However, I NEVER usually drank coffee or ate bread, and it turned out to be a complete disaster. Half way through I could run no more, unless it was to the nearest toilet, and after finding a local place that was fortunately open, we walked the rest of the way back. Lesson no. 1: never try anything new the morning of a run.
So here are some suggestions for you to fuel your runs, but please if it’s things you don’t normally eat then try them out when it isn’t going to matter, and you’re not going to be stranded along the River Thames at 0630 in the morning with nowhere to do your business!
EARLY MORNING RUNNING
If you’re going out early doors then sometimes you might not need anything, as long as you’re well hydrated from the night before. Anything under 30 minutes and of low intensity will be fine. If coffee’s your thing, then that will give you a useful boost. However, if you are going out for longer, or for a higher intensity workout then you are going to want to fuel your body so you can get the most from your workout. If you’re up and out early and are eating only 30 minutes prior to heading out then you want something light, that has quick releasing carbohydrates like a banana. My absolute favorite go to pre-run breakfast is a banana and oat smoothie, mixed with almond milk and a few dates. This is the perfect combination of quick releasing sugars, along with some complex carbs in the oats for slow releasing energy required later on.
MID MORNING RUNNING
If I’m running a little later then I will have a bigger breakfast, which will have had time to digest. I love porridge, so always make some up with a dash of cinnamon (which regulates blood sugar) and some berries mixed in. Have this two to three hours before your run and it should see you through a great workout.
LUNCH TIME RUNS
Trying to fit in a sneaky lunch break run means you’re probably going to be fairly hungry by now, but won’t want to eat your lunch until after your run. A midmorning snack can help here. Yoghurt with berries works well with the protein and fat in the yoghurt slowing down the absorption of the fruits’ sugars, so no sugar crash mid run!
AFTER WORK RUN
Hopefully you haven’t given in to the 4pm slump biscuit tin, but have snacked healthy in the afternoon, such as on nuts and seeds. Here you will just need a quick pick me up, so a banana/apple with some almond butter, or a small energy gel will do the trick before your run.
LATE NIGHT OWL RUN
If late at night is the only time you have to squeeze in your run, then you want to be planning ahead and eating your main meal at lunch, so you can just have something light in the evening. If you can still eat one-two hours before your run, then a carb based meal such as pasta is best, as it can be digested quickly. Avoid proteins and cream based sauces that will sit in your stomach and make your run uncomfortable. If you need a snack when you’ve completed your run, you could either eat half your dinner before and half after, or have a small 100-200 calorie snack of muesli, or a little yoghurt.
Remember to let us know what works and what doesn’t work for you, and any other suggestions you may have. You want to make sure you’ve fuelled properly for any workout, so your body is prepared and you can get the best out of the work you’re putting in.