Fuel your Run - Breakfast

We've given you a beginners training plan specifically designed for those who are preparing to run the marathon for the first time. However, that's merely 50% of the battle, as what you eat and when you eat are vital in terms of making sure you're in the best shape come race day. 

So lets begin at the very beginning of your day. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that you're going for a morning run, we're going to fill you in on the best snack to eat both before and after your run to make the best of your workout! None of us can deny having that 'hangry' feeling first thing in the morning after getting out of bed. It's hard to ignore the rumblings coming from your stomach as you head off for your morning training, but you don't have to ignore them.


Ideally, our recommendation would be to see if you can go to bed a half hour earlier and then drag yourself out of bed thirty minutes earlier, which would give you time to digest a more substantial meal. But, I realize how precious every minute of sleep can be, and also how difficult it can be to get in bed earlier, so here are some other ideas.

If you are opting for the shorter run,you need to be careful not to eat anything substantial or heavy, such as oatmeal or porridge , as you'll find you'll be essentially hitting a wall after the first couple of miles. There are two ways you can fix this. You can either eat something before the run, or add in some fuel when you are approximately three miles in and then again a few miles later. If you want to fuel up before heading out, I would recommend drinking eight ounces of sports drink and eating half an energy bar. Most all sports-nutrition-type items are designed to be easy to digest and are quickly absorbed into your system. This small snack should give you a noticeable energy boost. If you want to roll out of bed and just go, make sure you eat a good meal the evening before and add in a gel chew/block starting at mile two. Try to take one or two every two miles for the remainder of your run.

For the longer run, I wouldn’t recommend you go out on an empty stomach and play “catch up” the rest of the run. Instead, you’ll need to have some fuel in the tank before you set out. When trying to determine how much fuel to take in before a long run (longer than 75 minutes) begins, the general rule is to consume approximately 0.5 grams of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight and then multiply that number by the number of hours you have before you will begin your run.

Time to take a scientific glance at the specifities of what to eat in order to get the best out of your run:

Let’s say you weigh 180 pounds, and you have one hour before the run will begin.
180lbs x 0.5 = 90
90 x 1 hour = you need to eat 90 grams of carb to fuel your run.

In your case, you have only half an hour. So your equation will look like this:
180lbs x 0.5 = 90
90 x ½ an hour = you need to eat 45 grams of carb to fuel your run.

So what does 45 or even 90 grams of easy-to-digest carbohydrate look like? It might be a ½ a bakery bagel (~30 grams) and eight ounces sports drink (~15 grams). It might be an English muffin (~25 grams) topped with two tablespoons jam (~30 grams). If you want to eat a gel chased with water instead, that will give you about 25 grams of carbohydrate. For some additional easy-to-digest carbs, you could add in four ounces of fruit juice or half a large banana; either will supply you with approximately 15 more grams of easy-to-digest carbs.

These meal items are all easy to digest and will put fuel in your tank. Remember to add in more fuel and fluid (i.e. gels/blocks/beans/dried fruit/etc.) while you are out on the road for a long run. How much should you be adding?

This information is vital on the day of the run too, not just in the lead up. Your body will be accustomed to this ritual, and if you abandon this method on the day your body won't have much of a chance of lasting the entire run. 

So there's the information, I like to think everybody can take it and adapt it to their own personal diets and what they think is best for the.

Personally, this is the breakfast routine I've decided on between now and the marathon:

Before Run

Considering i always wake up to my stomach grumbling, I simply can't go for a run without having a bite to eat first. My port of call is some granola, either a cereal with some milk or a granola bar, and a banana. I see it as the perfect pre-run snack, not too heavy but appropriately filling and full of the energy you need for a succesful run! All the better if you can combine the two as you can see...


After Run

After running, especially a long run, you want to replenish energy as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness.

You'll want to consume primarily carbs, but don't ignore protein.

A good rule of thumb for post-run food is a ratio of 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs. Carbs in the form of glucose are the easiest to break down and be used as fuel. So high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice are good choices for refueling muscles. Pair one of those foods with a protein such as lean chicken or turkey breast (3 oz.), salmon (3 oz.), or a large egg and you've got yourself a solid post-run recovery meal. 

For me, I like to get the best of both worlds while also treating myself to something tasty, because lets face it we all deserve it after the long run we just did. Provided I have the time, my post-run meal of choice is 2 poached eggs and a little bit of smoked salmon on a slice of toasted brown or seeded bread with a hefty spread of avocado on it. It looks just as good as it sounds!

Feel free to compose your own pre and post run meals and drop it in the comments section!