How to fuel for a morning run

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Last Saturday morning, I headed out for a 10K run. Before I left, I ate breakfast. Some toast with butter, a coffee and some water and off I went. For the first 2K I felt great. Sun shining, music on, light on my feet. But at 3K, something was totally off. I felt completely drained. My legs were instantly heavy and I felt weak. I had to stop. All I could think about was food. Suddenly, I was so hungry, I literally could not continue.

Luckily, my husband told me to take my debit card as I was heading out the door – just in case. I’m so glad I did because I took the first turn I could find in search of food. Any food. A few options immediately presented themselves: convenience store…deli…Tesco…bakery! Bingo! Bring on the carbs! I walked in and immediately got myself a giant cinnamon bun which I accepted directly in my hand and was happily munching before I even left the store. As soon as I was done, I felt instantly better. The influx of carbs and sugar caused a renewed sense of energy and I set off running again. I happily finished the 10K I set off to do, despite my ridiculous mid-run cinnamon bun break.

After 5+ years of avid running, I’d like to think that I’ve got this whole eating thing figured out. Turns out, I still screw it up from time to time.

The problem is, everyone has different levels of comfort around eating and training. There’s lots tips and advice online, but you have to figure out what works for you. Some people eat a big breakfast and wait a few hours before heading out. Others have a small breakfast and head right out the door. Others don’t eat anything at all, or sometimes rely on gels or an energy drink along the way.

For me, a small but solid breakfast is key for a successful morning run. I have found that the following things are easy to digest and provide long-lasting energy:

  • A big bowl of oatmeal with fruit or berries
  • A piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and cut up banana
  • A bowl of cereal with banana
  • A bowl of Greek yogurt with granola, fruit or berries and honey drizzled on top
  • A smoothie with Greek yogurt, lots of fruit and protein powder
  • A piece of whole wheat toast with 1 or 2 hard-boiled egg

What works for you? Have you ever stopped mid-run for a snack?



  1. afastpacedlife June 7, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    I can’t eat and run. If the run is under 10 miles, then I can go without food. If it’s over 10, then I eat simple highly processed carbs (like a croissant or cake) because it’s the only thing my stomach that process quickly. If I eat anything remotely substantial, I can’t run for at least four hours.

    • thoughtsandpavement June 7, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      Really?! Wow. Well, like a said, everyone is different. I would fall apart without any food at all. I’d be making multiple cinnamon bun breaks! haha

  2. petco June 7, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    I always eat before I run. I have found after I eat a potato I almost always have a good run. Pasta also works for me although I find it sits heavy in the stomach sometimes so I need to wait a bit before I run. If it is between meals and I just need a quick boost, chocolate and a coffee will give me a great run. And, of course, bread and bananas – I guess I tend to not eat much protein before a run (I probably should eat some) as I feel it makes me sluggish sometimes.

  3. April Cunningham June 8, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    I find that my body has become better at processing breakfast before a run. It used to make me nauseous. My go-to breakfast is toast with PB&J (two pieces if a longer run). Oatmeal with PB mixed in is another fave. For my marathon I ate a bagel with PB and a banana. I try to eat at least an hour ahead. If it’s 5-10 km I can usually get away with a banana and out the door. Also a coffee!! Can’t forget that!

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