What to Eat Before a Long Run

It is fair to say that we all tolerate foods differently. Just like with most things diet and exercise related, I believe that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of solution when it comes to what we should be fueling our bodies with before we head out for a run. I know some runners who prefer not to consume anything before going out for a run, and I know some runners who prefer to fuel their bodies prior to running. However with that said, here is what I suggest that may help if you do choose to fuel your body before going for a run. In this article I am referring to long runs, i.e. a run that is approximately 45 minutes or longer.

Long runs require more energy than shorter runs and there are two factors we need to consider if we choose to eat before a run. The first factor we need to consider is how much we eat. We would need to eat more before a long run compared to a short run. The second factor we need to consider is the time we eat before we go for a run. Consuming more food will take our bodies more time to digest. Therefore we would need to eat a few hours earlier before a long run compared to a short run. Some individuals may choose to eat up to 4 hours before a run, while others may choose to eat just 1 hour prior to running. These two factors will vary from person to person.

For all of you who love your carbs, I have some good news for you! Just like our brains, our body’s preferred fuel source is carbohydrates. Our bodies are very quick and efficient at converting carbohydrates into energy, and energy is what we need to get us through those long runs. This is where the idea of carb-loading comes to mind. Carb-loading can help our bodies maximise the storage of energy we create from the carbohydrates we consume before a run. Please note, carb-loading or fuelling your body before a run does not suggest that we should over eat or over load our bodies with food.

Here are my top carbohydrate foods to eat before a long run:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Porridge
  3. Wholemeal toast
  4. Beans
  5. Potatoes
  6. Wholegrain cereals
  7. Brown rice
  8. Wholemeal pasta

* Please note that individual results may vary. It is important to consult with your health care processional before making any changes to your diet and exercise regime.

Written by Tammy Mond (Nutritionist)