Distance running can seem very daunting, but believe it or not, you can do it too! Ready to train for your first half marathon? Or maybe you're about to tackle your 10th half or even a full! Join in on The Long Run for different tips and tricks for before, during and after to make it through your long run while feeling your best.
We're taking a step back this week and focusing on what you should eat before your run since we talked about post run eats last week! Runners can generally attribute their great (or poor) performance to what they do (or don't eat) before their runs. Now I'll tell you what I eat, but more importantly what your body generally needs before a morning run. Remember that everyone is different and you'll be able to find out what your body wants with a little trial and error.
When it comes to running, carbohydrates are the key to your pre-run nutrition. Even if you're just doing a few miles, it's recommended to at least have 4-5 grams of carbs in order to boost your Krebs cycle in the morning. This is what kicks up your metabolism, so the earlier it gets revving, the more calories your body burns through out the day. Thus, 10 grams of carbs before you run is ideal even if you aren't really one for pre-run breakfast. Good pre-run carbs are bagels, toast, cereal (wet or dry), granola, sports/nutrition bars and fruit.
The amount of time or distance you're running in the morning should play a big role in the amount/what you decided to eat pre-run. If you're only going for 20-30 minutes, hydration is more important and maybe water plus orange juice or a sports drink will provide you with the amount of nutrition your body needs. If you're taking off on a 45 minute run you should hydrate and grab a granola bar or a piece of toast to get your body going. The most important time to fuel up pre-run is when you're tackling your long distance (Sunday's for me!). This is when you need to prepare your body for what's to come. The last thing any runner wants is to bonk due to lack of fuel before or during your run. It is of most importance to figure out just what works for your body on these long run days. In case you're wondering, here's my long run pre-race fuel up! I am a big fan of peanut butter toast with sliced banana on top. It can also just be peanut butter toast with a banana on the side or even peanut butter and banana. All of these foods are easy on my stomach and help me get the proper carb-protein ratio that my body craves.
Another factor that should influence what/how much you eat is the amount of time your can allow your body to digest before hitting the pavement. Most runners try to eat at least 1 hour before starting their workout. If you have this kind of time, feel free to eat a bit more before your long run. If you only have about 15-30 minutes to digest, I would definitely take the amount of food you eat down a bit and may intake some additional fluids that are easier for your body to process. I generally eat about 30-45 minutes before my run. I know it sounds hard, but waking up 15 minutes earlier to give your body some additional digestion time can be worth it!
Carbs are important to fuel your run. They are even more important to get your metabolism revved up in the AM. Try to have around 300 calories of carbs before a long run (9+ miles, intake also varies upon body type/weight). This will give you the energy you need and the foundation to feel better before, during and after your run.
I hope this helps those of you that are wondering what or if you should be eating in the mornings before you head for your work out! I am a big advocate of morning workouts because I am a morning person and I always feel ready to tackle the day after a good morning workout. Work days wear me out and sometimes I just feel like getting home and resting for the evening. Morning workouts allow me to do this without feeling guilty! Still wondering just how important breakfast is for everyone? Take a look at this article from Runner's World called A Full Morning and maybe rethink breakfast the next time you head out to start your day (workout or not!).
Also, please note that I am by no means a nutritionist. I am simply relaying the knowledge I have from years of running, teaching group exercise, personal training and reading A LOT of articles/books about nutrition and exercise. Please don't even hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail if you have questions!