The morning runner is up with the sun. They slip into their spandex. Lace up their shoes and head out the door. Some might drink a glass of water, a cup of coffee or some electrolytes but should you eat before your morning run?
But first… coffee.
We love a morning cup of coffee before heading out for a run, but should we be drinking? YES!!! And the caffeine might have some training benefits like improved physical and mental performance. It’s like hope in a cup or maybe a like extra motivation in the morning. Sip slow and run fast!
Remember everything in moderation. Too much coffee can cause gastrointestinal issues, nausea, shakiness and overconsumption can actually lead to a decrease in sports performance.
Leading up to race day, stick with your daily coffee habits. Right now while we are in maintenance mode, that means it is the perfect time to experiment with different intakes before your training to see how you feel and perform.
The length and intensity of your run will determine what you are going to eat before you head out the door. If your run is super early, you will want to focus on nourishing your body the night before with carb sources like white rice, pasta, potatoes and fruit to fill your glycogen stores.
When you wake up, try to eat something light with carbs like a banana.
If you have more time about 3 to 4 hours before your run, try some of these: peanut butter & jelly sandwich, applesauce, fruit smoothie with OJ and moderate protein, oatmeal with honey & blueberries or a sports drink.
For those with a sensitive stomach, just see what you can tolerate. Start small by sipping a sports drink, coconut water, fruit juice or a light fruit smoothie. If you can tolerate more like a banana with honey or toast with butter or jam, that would be ideal but, see what your body can handle. It’s just like training your body physically, start small and see how it goes.
If you find yourself still with issues, it might be best to play around with the timing of nutrition before the run. If your body isn’t going to allow you to run without issues, another idea is to wake up earlier to eat something and wait at least 60-90 minutes to move to allow your body to digest the food.
And don’t forget to hydrate.
Drink 8-12oz fluid about 10-15 minutes before your run.
Drink at least 16-24oz fluid within 4 hours of your run.
If you are heading out for a run that is shorter than a hour, you don’t need to bring additional fluids unless it’s hot, humid or a heavy sweater.
For those looking for something easy to grab in those early hours, try things like Kashi or Van’s Freezer Waffles, Clif Bar, KIND Bars, granola, bananas, or graham crackers with honey.
The biggest takeaway, if you can eat something before your morning run, do. Even something little can provide you with that extra kick you need to crush your workout.
About Jordan Langhough
Jordan is a Denver-based nutrition coach and fitness instructor. Learn more her services by following her on Instagram at @jordanlanghough.