Being properly fueled for your run is very important, especially if you’ll be running for a long duration. How you’re fueling and nourishing your body before a long run determined how you will feel during and after that run and your overall performance. So if you’re not sure what to eat before a long run, here is a guide you should follow.
Do I Really Need to Eat Before a Long Run?
Before we dive into what to eat before a long run, you need to understand the importance of why you should be eating before you go on a run. Without any fuel before a long run, you’re likely to crash and not be able to go for a longer duration. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something big, but a small snack such as half a banana or a tablespoon of peanut butter can be enough.
Eating something before you go on a run can ensure that your body will have enough blood sugar to provide you with fuel for your run and will determine how long you’re able to go for. That’s why I personally think you shouldn’t skip it.
What to Eat Before a Long Run
When deciding what to eat before a long run, aim for meals that are high in carbs as carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for runners. Our bodies are able to burn carbohydrates more quickly and efficiently as opposed to fats and proteins, therefore, resulting in lots of energy for your run.
Try to choose simple carbohydrates so that they are easy for your body to break down quickly and don’t put a strain on your digestive system while you’re running, resulting in cramps and an upset stomach. Some foods I recommend are:
- Fruits (bananas, apple, berries, pear, pineapple etc.)
- Slice of toast with peanut butter
- A granola bar
- Oatmeal with some fruit
- Fruit smoothie
- A glass of orange juice
Determine the Nutritional Demands of Your Run
Keep in mind that everyone’s digestive system reacts differently to the food that you eat. Therefore, you should always test out foods during your runs to see what works best for your body, especially if you’re training for a race.
Based on what type of running you’re planning on doing, your nutritional demands might differ. If you’re just going for an hour run, then stick to eating the foods I mentioned above. If you’re planning on running for longer than 2 hours or are training for a long run, then I suggest having foods such as :
- Sweet potatoes
- Energy Gels (bring them with you on the run)
- Gatorade (bring it with you on the run)
Things to Avoid Eating Before a Long Run
As important as it is to eat something before a long run, there are certain foods that you should avoid to not experience cramping, bloating, a side stitch or heartburn. When you’re exercising at a high intensity for a longer duration of time, your blood flows away from your digestive tract and goes towards providing oxygen to your muscles. This in turn results in digestion slowing down and can cause discomfort if there is food in your gut that still needs to be digested. As a result, I would avoid the following foods before going on a long run:
- Foods high in fiber
- Chicken, beef, fish
- Anything high in fats or proteins as they take longer to digest
Getting optimum nutrition does require a bit of planning, but it’s a good idea to pay attention to how eating different foods before your run can have an affect on your body. You might find that certain carbs give you more energy than others or make you feel your best when running, so play around with some of the foods suggested in this article to find what works best for you.