Your pre-exercise meal plays an important function: it fuels primarily your brain. As you can imagine, when your brain doesn’t have the fuel it needs, it will tell you that it’s tired and needs to eat. And the brain can’t store fuel like other muscles. The brain gets its fuel from the liver, which starts out the day mostly depleted of energy from sleeping. So it’s critical that you eat in the morning before you run to help you feel sharper and more together during your run.
To underscore the importance of pre-workout (and race) eating, I’ll point out that there have been studies on runners in which they are told to run until they are completely exhausted. When the runners have stopped, researchers found that it was typically their brains that were out of energy, not their muscles. The brain is a powerful organ, and when it says stop, you usually will stop.
So what should you be eating before your workouts?
Exercise is fueled primarily by carbohydrates. A light meal of both simple and complex carbohydrates lays a foundation for your morning workout.
Picking the particular foods for your breakfast will be a process of experimentation for you. Depending on your stomach, you’ll need to find what works for you. And once you do find something that works, use that same formula on race day.
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The performance eating continuum (A theory on the types of foods to eat based on your speed)
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
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