What do you eat before a long run, or before a race? A full breakfast? And how do you stay fueled during a longer run/race? Do you use carbohydrate gels, or do you rely more on things that came out of the ground vs. fell off a truck? What has worked best for you?
Some great reads on fueling for running:
Fueling While Running
9 Nutrition Mistakes Beginning Runners Make
What Runners Should Eat: 4 Tips for Race Day Nutrition
Oh boy, after 42 half marathons, I have a superstitious routine for my pre-race breakfast...I think any "successful" runner is kind of superstitious about what they eat on race day, amirite!?! I feel the need to define "successful" as follows...no stomach ache, no headache, no crap in my shorts :-) Two hours before race start I eat a banana, half hour before start I eat a Larabar (only 4 ingredients), at mile 3, I take a gel (I love Hammer) 6-7 miles in I have another gel, at 9-10 miles I evaluate my energy level and decide if I need another...I'd say about 50% the time I do, because I am a 57 yr old runner and I am NOT a sample size (5'9" - 140-145 lbs). I carry my own water because I like to take a sip every half mile or so to keep my mouth from feeling like a desert. I offer all this in detail to help someone who may be struggling, with that being said, every body responds differently (I am a doctor) but this may help some ;-)
I have the most sensitive stomach of any runner I know and through trial and error found eating nothing before short runs and eating 1 cup of cheerios w/almond milk before my long runs the best. Tried all kinds of fuel, can't tolerate any electrolyte drinks-just water, and found ProBar organic chews the only I can tolerate. 2 chews every 3 miles keeps me going throughout my runs including my marathons. Anybody with similar stomach issues who has a plan that works for them please share.
I am just coming back from a fusion of my left big toe. I was out for about 8 weeks. I have adopted a low carb diet to get back into running shape. I am doing well with both running and maintaining this new diet. I have not run a race yet with this new diet but in the past, the day before the race, I would have pasta for lunch and then eat sensibly and that has worked. I tried the gels once and that did not do anything for me so I am sticking with my previous plan and making sure that I am hydrated!
For runs less than 10 coffee and peanut butter and crackers 1 hour before. With water and Zeal during warm weather just Zeal during cold weather gummie bears after an hour. Longer than 10 Oatmeal with honey and cinnamon 2 to 3 hours prior. Water and Gatorade alternate if I’m running that long it’s prep for a race so I mimic the water stops gummies after mile five. A little trick I take icebreaker mints to prevent dry mouth and that helps me not to guzzle water. Post run chocolate almond milk and tablespoon peanut butter and half a banana.
I think I'm the anomaly here. I cant eat peanut butter or bananas before a run. I'll want to throw-up! Runs under 6 miles, I try not to eat an hour before hand, but I'll hydrate. Runs over 9 miles, I'll have some toast and pre-workout about 15-30 minutes before. During my runs, I'll take squeezable fruit pouches...like go-go squeeze and cut up grapes. I find that these are easier to take than gels and don't make me nauseous. SiS makes some great gels though that are less viscous and easy to take. I'll take one or two of these on runs over 13 miles in addition to the other stuff.
I usually do peanut butter on an English muffin and a banana before race. During race I found the marten non flavored gels to be very easy to digest and use for both half marathons and full marathons. Usually stick mostly with water on these races as well occasionally using Gatorade some during the last third of the race.
For races, I usually have maybe a picky bar a few hours before. Then a light protein shake with some gatorade about 30 minutes before. For normal runs, I do nothing. If it's over 10 miles, sometimes I'll bring some chews. Over 15 definitely. But usually, I only have a chew every mile or so.
I have been having difficulties with this. I tend to get nauseated during long runs. I've tried different things such as different gels, gummy bears, dates, different chews etc etc. So far, I've found what works for me... to have a banana with almond butter with extra salt about 2 hours before my long run... with a 5 hour energy (I know its not that healthy but it works for me) and during my run to sip on fruit punch gatorade. I've also made sure I carb load a few days before my long run... before my eating habits were not that great. My nausea has decreased significantly and where I am able to finish and be ok. If anyone has any other tips, please let me know.. it's still a work in progress for me.
Before a morning run I will eat shredded wheat with blueberries and almond milk. All with a cup of coffee. I'm fortunate that I can run shortly after eating without any issues (usually). Mid-day runs I'll have peanut butter toast and a banana. For runs shorter than 7 miles, I don't worry about fueling at all. I'm interested to read the posts about mid-race fueling as that is where I struggle. Currently, I take applesauce in squeeze packets and it works OK for me. I need a better plan though as I'm hoping to PR in the half marathon in October at the ripe age of 55. I just purchased some SiS energy gels as they don't require as much water when you use them.
I've been running half marathons (+ 3 marathins) for 12 years, and my nutrition/hydration strategy is still evolving. I ran a 10 mile race Saturday. I got up 5 hours before race time to eat a sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter & drink water. Went back to bed & got up again 3 hours before race time and ate a Stinger waffle & more water. An hour before I had a Clif bar with almond butter. I carried 22 ounces of Gatorade G2 (lower sugar) which lasted just about 10 miles, and ate 2 Clif Shot Blocks every 2.5 miles. This worked very well - no stomach issues and plenty of energy. I don't expect many PR's at age 63, but I managed to get one Saturday. Next race is a half on September 22. I plan to use the same strategy, but may have to hit a water station or 2 when my Gatorade runs out.
Runs shorter than 6 miles, I don't eat anything. For races from halves up to ultras I'll have coffee, a small bowl of oatmeal with soy milk and a banana cut up on top before the race. Gels are gross and hard for me to choke down so for long training runs, apple sauce packets, peanut butter sandwiches, mamma chia packets, and kind pressed chia bars are my go-to. During supported races, whatever looks good at the aid station at the moment, fruit, Fritos, potato chips, coke (LOTS of coke), veggie broth, animal crackers, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, corn nuts. Mostly junk, haha. I'll also put those little apple or orange juice bottles that come in six-packs and 5-hour energy in my drop bag if it's a race long enough to have a drop bag. For anyone looking for homemade, carry-with-you, easy-to-digest, high-calorie running food, check out the book "Feed Zone Portables." It was written by the chef of the U.S. Olympic cycling team and the recipes in there are awesome. My fave is the coconut rice bars, with a layer of fresh blueberries and chocolate chips in the middle. Yum.
Usually have a banana, sometimes two before a long race (ultra). During long runs I will sometimes have a glazed donut and peanut butter crackers. For runs up to 50k water is usually the only drink I consume. Far as nausea 37% of ultra runners experience this during a race. Gels- seem okay as long as your consuming enough fluid to help with the digestion. For long races I completely steer away from coffee. Being a diuretic the coffee could help lead one toward dehydration, not to mention bathroom stops. Crushed pretzels and applesauce work well on long training runs (20-27 miles).
for my weekly runs in the morning (6 miles) i might take a swig or 2 of gatorade and i just go. for my longer runs (10+) i might have half a clif bar a half hour beforehand. i'm really weird i really don't have a need for liquids when i am running. if i do a half marathon i might do a gu at mile 7 but typically i just go with nothing.
I usually don't need to have any fuel for 5 miles and under, but sometimes I will have a half a banana. I typically run in the morning, so I have my water and hit the road. For longer runs ( 8 miles plus) I will have a 1/2 an English muffin with peanut butter and a 1/2 a banana about an hour before I go out. During my long runs I will use GU gels staring at 8 miles and every 4-5 miles from there. I did my first marathon last year and found in training to eat a really balanced diet a bit heavier on carbs ( my body likes white rice the best) leading up to my the race and my 20 mile runs. I like sipping on NUUN water for my long runs or when its hot. I sweat a ton and have to lightly salt my food after I run. ( I'm learning when my body is low on salt, I can feel it.)
I tend to eat right before my runs. I like to eat almond butter some blueberries and grapes and some granola and coffee. I do the same for races but make sure for races I eat earlier.
I had not read through this originally, but pulled it back up after my long run Saturday (20mi)
I usually do not eat before a run, instead drink a Ucan w/protein. During my runs, I fuel with Tailwind Endurance. I have used Gu products in the past to supplement my needs when necessary,
without any issues. However, that was not the case on Saturday. The Gu caused nausea, and the last 5-6 miles my time ballooned. I generally run early (5am), so eating something before has never been planned. If an event starts at 7:30a or later, I eat a plain bagel and/or some oatmeal.
I am planning to change a few things up for my next 20mi run and see what happens.
I prefer running on an empty stomach. If I run in the afternoon or evening, I make sure that last food I had was 3-4 hours ago.
I can run 2.5 hours without needing to fuel in training. I'll have gels for the race and I occasionally practice with them to ensure my body responds well. I use the salted caramel from GU as I need the extra electrolytes with my low blood pressure.
Did my first half marathon in March 2017 and although I finished....the ending was rough. I ran out of energy. The main reason it was so hard on my body was that I clearly avoided drinking more than "sips" of water or electrolytes along the way in order to AVOID the port-o-potties. I also avoided all kinds of gels due to the fact that if they gave me any kind of stomach issues....yup....I would have to use the bathroom :(. However, one month later for my second half ever I changed it up a bit and committed to drinking more along the way and consuming energy gummies. The end result was much better than the first for sure. Fast forward to a bit over 2 years later and although for my last half I did consume one energy gel (without bathroom issues), I realized my body does not need that gel for a 13.1 mile run. I always bring my own water and take sips as needed. I am currently training for the Disney Dopey Challenge happening in January 2020 and I do a 10 mile run every Saturday without consuming any water. I bring 2 dates with me in the event I feel the need for the energy. I have tried many energy gels for running and really dislike most of them. However I found a company that makes egels. They are great. I consumed one every 5 miles of my first marathon starting at mile 5 and they were great!!!! Also at home before leaving for an event (because you have to leave with so much time in advance usually) I have a smuckers peanut butter and jelly uncrustable with my coffee and plenty of water.
Usually just something light. I have to eat in the morning but I don’t notice hunger as much when I am running. I am always open to ideas and suggestions. What is the ideal breakfast on race day?
I have my race morning ritual where I always make sure I have a protein, 2 types of carbs and a pre-workout drink. If I'm near a microwave, I'll nuke egg beaters, and have a cup of berries and a kind bar. If I'm not near cooking implements, I'll eat a protein bar, fruit and a kind bar along with my pre-workout. I've discovered this works the best and lasts me well into mile 10. I have started eating gels during mile 9 to give me that kick for the final 4 miles. For training, I tend to run more on an empty stomach. Only for my long runs of 10 miles or more will I fuel up prior to the run and I fuel up 2 hours before. If I eat 1 hour or less before running, I'm in search of a restroom along my route which isn't always available!!!
Since my first half marathon was this past Dec and my first full will be in Feb, I still feel like a noobie, but I will only eat a protien bar and one gatorade before. Then I use the Stinger gummies during, about halfway through one of the Stinger gels and I use Trail Wind for hydration. If I feel hungry at the start line, I might have one of the Stinger waffles (if you can't tell, I like the Stinger brand lol).
I usually wake up several hours earlier than usual. I will have a cup of coffee and a banana. After getting awake good, If I am running a 1/2, I’ll have a peanut butter bagel and drink my favorite juice with beet powder in it. During the race, I’ll only drink water or power aide or Gatorade. I can’t tolerate gels. 🤮🤢.
Before my long runs (those over an hour) I have a cup of Trader Joe's Oatmeal with a splash of almond milk and coffee. For runs around half marathon distance or longer I add a sandwich thin with some peanut butter. I follow the same guidelines on race morning and if there is a significant wait between breakfast and race time I will have a Honey Stinger waffle about 30 minutes before the race if it is a half or longer. During the race I have a GU gel about every 45 minutes or every 3 miles depending on race distance. If it is really hot out I will have the on course electrolyte drink at every stop it is offered at but for cooler days I will have it every other or every third stop. This strategy has worked quite well for me and I have not had any digestive issues or felt that my energy levels were too low.
For runs 10k and below, I prefer going on an empty stomach. For a half marathon, a plain bagel with extra cream cheese about 2-1.5 hours before start. Anything more is sure to cause a problem somewhere down the road. For all runs, I start sipping on a bottle of water about an hour before start, with a potty call at start minus 15 minutes. Can’t tolerate sports drinks at all. Along the course, no eating. I stop for water at the 4 and 8 mile points. One-third cup swish and spit, one-third swallow, one-third poured on my head and back. Preferred post-run refuel is a chocolate milk followed by a bag of chips, followed by a beer. Or two.
Overnight oats an hour before, then a serving of UCAN 30 mins b4 and then every hour-ish. Just started testing UCAN after trying it for the first time at SF half marathon in July. Usually before that I munched a Stroopwafel or a chew every 45 minutes; have never tried gels because the consistency sort of turns me off. However, I seem to have a cast iron stomach that will go with whatever random calories I toss down my gullet before, during, or after.