Running on Empty.

25 Jun

I’ve heard all the excuses, and I’ve used my own:

  • It’s too early
  • I have too much acid in my stomach
  • I get side-stitches
  • I’ll get sick
  • I won’t run as fast

If you haven’t figured it out, it all has to do with eating before running … I’m talking the am. The trope in the athletic world is our body is a machine: Fuel it accordingly for the work you will put it through. cartoon-woman-running But what to eat, when to eat it, how much to eat?

YEARS. Actual years of my life have been devoted to listening, talking, wondering, and seeing if I can figure out what works best and when. I’ve condensed all the advice and research I’ve done and devised a few food categories below to make the tips easier:

REAL food- Real food qualifies as anything that’s not manufactured or comes in package with the calorie content and ingredients on it. You know, stuff you can grown in your backyard if you really want to.

  • Eggs-Pure protein, but a pain to get up early enough to prep. Hard boiled is okay, but some have found this causes … gas. I rather prefer not to sound like a back-firing car on my runs, but if it works for you, great!
  • Poultry/Meat/Fish–If you can eat ANY of these early in the am, you really are special.
  • Fruits and Veggies-Important, essential, sustainable, and ridiculously hard to eat before 9 (at least for me). After some whining/complaining/questioning, the running buddies suggested smoothies–YESSSSSS. Smoothies can be a REALLY great option, but just like above, if you decide to eat diary, it might not work for the best. I’ve found a mix of greens and fruit work well (TRY Tuscan kale–yes, Kale–mango, and blueberry). Also, Bananas … this chick loves bananas after a run, but if you get a nice ripe one BEFORE, the sugar will last you a while!
  • Nuts-Eh, they’re not going to last me forever, but are great for a snack on the ride to the event (especially if you get a nervous tummy).


Everyone’s just a bit too happy here.

And this is where we start to over to the man-made, manufactured side of of things:

  • Protein powder- Well, I’ve tried all types in the am before many different length of runs, and I’ve found they’re good with OTHER foods (like a smoothie + something). Also, if you’re a genetic anomaly like me, you may NOT be able to eat any type with whey or soy. Rice/plant based proteins work well for me and the Vegetarian/Vegan set. I like the brand VEGA ONE (not chalky, FULL of vitamins and minerals, and all the flavors are great).
  • CARBs (how I miss thee, white flour)- Bagels work for some, others like toast, some recommend oatmeal or oat bran. English muffins to challah, carbs last most normal people a long time and are light to digest. I’ve never heard a recommendation of slathering said carb with cream cheese, or jams, or butter, but skip to butters below …
  • Apple sauce- Easily digestible and easy to get down (but you’ll probably need more than a cup or to + it with something).
  • Almond butter/ Peanut butter-I can’t really stomach the refined sugars in the AM BUT both are great on a carb OR in a smoothie (really, try it) and go well on carbs if you can digest it. Few I spoke with found it too heavy IF eaten an hour in advance.
  • Bars- So many different types of bars, so little caloric intake. Same rules as above apply–LOOK at what’s in it. TOO much sugar is not so good, some are chalky, some aren’t satisfying. These can aid in quick carbs and aid in easy digestion.
  • Beans/gummies-Canned beans? Nope, not that kind, but the new-fangled looks like candy beans. I LOVE to keeps these in my key pocket during long runs as they REALLY do quickly help replenish flue for the rest of the run. My personal favorite is Clif Shot Blocks (black cherry). These are so easy to eat in the am, help me feel full, and go well with my large amounts of water.


Do you think they’re made of buckwheat … almond flower???

I’m so exhausted I almost feel full (ba-dum), but seriously folks, each one of us is going to need to do a bit of trial and error to see what foods will work best. I strongly advise against too much roughage and dairy (they make you go … over to the port-os). As for how many calories/carbs, well, I’d scroll to the bottom of this article to figure it out:

As for time, I STRONGLY recommend at least an hour before if not a half hour for digestion. It depends on how quickly you digest food and what foods you’ve eaten. The above article gives an example of for normal people. My time varies as may yours.

Also, if you’d like some pointed questions to ponder–

So, get your bagels toasted and you smoothies … smooth. Yeah, add up and fuel up for proper training and sustainability that will last any fat girl, fat guy, or average sized runner.


2 Responses to “Running on Empty.”

  1. Attempted Runner June 25, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    My two go to pre run breakfasts are either my Gluten free steel cut oats with cinnamon and a few dried cranberries, or my GF English muffin with natural peanut butter and a banana. Half the banana on the muffin, the other just eat plain. Thats usually the one I have a hard time getting down for some reason. During ny long runs I’m actually trying dried cranberries, white chocolate chips and pay day snack bar broken into vote size pieces. I’ve read that dried fruits during a run does more benefeicial things then the gu’s and stuff.

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