Posted by: Joe English | August 20, 2007

Training — What Should I eat for Breakfast Before Long Runs?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

One of the big mistakes that runners make is that they go into their long run workouts with empty fuel tanks. Just like a car needs gas, you need fuel to power your engine. When you’ve got nothing in the tank, you can feel tired, fatigued, and cranky from the first steps of your run.

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.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Related articles:
The performance eating continuum (A theory on the types of foods to eat based on your speed)

Wow! You eat a lot when you run!

Dealing with stomach upset after long runs

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News



  1. […] choice: best songs for runningBroadcasts: 2008 Olympic Marathon Broadcast coverageTraining: what should I eat for breakfast before long runs?“How much should my legs hurt after a long run?” AKA: Painful legsTraining: How many miles per […]

  2. i normally don’t run before breakfast as I feel i need to eat properly to have energy. however, yesterday a friend suggested an early run before it got too hot. i had a glass of water when i woke up as usual. i had half a banana, a few grapes, a dried apricot and a cup of coffee with one spoon of sugar. I went running half an hour after breakfast for one hour. It was one of the best runs in ages.

  3. thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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