What Should Runners Eat Before a Long Run

Ever felt weak or dizzy during a long run?

If your answer is yes, then the culprit might be your diet, especially the food you consume the night before your long run.

So, what’s good to eat before a long run?

In today’s article, I’ll share with you a few nutrition and meal tips on what to eat before a long run so you can ensure optimal performance.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

The Importance of Making The Right Decisions

To perform your best in the long run, you’ll want to ensure you’re eating the right things at the right time. Diet is as important as the training itself.

Your food choices matter a lot when it comes to running. Eat the wrong things, and you’ll set yourself up for failure, and you don’t want that.

The reason?

The food you eat before a run can help you accomplish either of the following two things:

  • Provide energy for the miles, which is, after all, the purpose of pre-run eating. Or
  • Negatively impact your running performance and comfort during and after your workout.

So which option is more attractive?

Of course, number 1.

What’s more?

Stomach issues caused by bad food choices are common among runners.

A survey shows that over 40 percent of runners have had stomach issues ruin a long run, a recent poll of @runners world revealed.

Making the right diet choices the night before a run can help you prevent a runner’s stomach, make sure you have enough fuel to avoid bonking, and keep you healthy and strong while running long distances.

I can go on and on about the importance of a pre-training diet, but I guess you get the picture. For more on the importance of a good runners diet, check the following posts:

The Tips You Need

Without further ado, here are a few meals pre-long-run tips to help you ensure propel refueling without upsetting your stomach.

Go Light On Fiber

Whether it’s a 3-mile jog around the block or a 20-mile long run, consuming too much fiber could upset your stomach.

Although fiber has a lot to offer, for some people, it can trigger discomfort, bloating, gas, and unwanted bathroom trips.

As a rule, I’d recommend you avoid the following the night before a long run:

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Broccoli
  • And other high-fiber veggies and fruits.

Avoid Fatty Foods

Fiber isn’t the only culprit. Fatty foods can also upset your stomach, make it harder to fall asleep at night, and cause G.I. issues.

Over time and practice, you’ll figure out what works best the night before a long run when it comes to food choices, and you want to follow that plan as closely as possible.

Avoid High-Protein Foods

Consuming too much protein can also lead to stomach issues. I’d recommend having your high-protein meals for recovery after your long runs and workouts. Timing is of the essence.

Food to avoid The Night Before A Long Run

To sum it up, here’s the complete list of foods to shun the night before a long run.

  • Beans and other legumes
  • Sugary refined carbs
  • Dairy
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Fried food
  • Fatty cuts of beef or other meats
  • Nuts
  • Fructose

Sure, this might sound like too much to cut from your diet. But it’s only for the night before a long run, especially if you have a history of stomach issues.

What’s more?

There is plenty of food to consume without worrying about an upset stomach. I’ll get to that shortly.

Listen To Your Gut

Both literally and figuratively.

Your pre-run food choices can vary—and only you know what works best for your body.

So, if you’ve any food allergies, intolerances, or underlying health conditions, eat accordingly and go with what your gut can handle. The rest is just details.

Example Of What To Eat The Night Before A Long Run

Now that you know a thing or two about avoiding the night before a long run let’s get into the fun stuff and share a few examples of food to eat.

Pizza

It might not seem like the healthiest choice, but pizza can do the trick, especially if you keep the serving size reasonable.

Just remember to skip the greasy pepperoni or sausage, go light on the cheese and keep your serving size reasonable.

Already lactose-intolerant? Go for lactose free-cheese or skip it altogether.

Couscous

Couscous

The famous Moroccan dish is one of my favorite.

You can mix the couscous with a variety of veggies and meats, but as a pre-run meal, I recommend keeping it simple.

Salmon

Salmon is a great high-protein, anti-inflammatory food that’s also easy to digest. Not only that, but it’s also easy to make a salmon dish as it literally takes under 20 minutes to throw together.

Sweet Potatoes

As one of the best sources of carbs, sweet potatoes are an integral part of a runner’s. They’re not only easy to digest, but they are high in carbohydrates, potassium (to prevent muscle cramps), and other valuable nutrients.

Grilled Veggies

Grilled vegetables still have a lot of nutrients without a huge amount of fiber.

Sushi Rolls

My favorite Japanese food of all time. I’d eat three to four, depending on the size, with sushi meshi (sushi rice), lean fish, veggies, avocado, etc.

Just remember to avoid higher-fat fillings such as tempura and cream cheese.

What to Have For Breakfast Before A Long Run

I’d suggest nothing unless you insist. I mostly do my long runs in a fasted state, but that’s me. Maybe you’re different. Maybe you need something in the tank before you get going.

The key is to experiment and find what works the best for you. But as a rule, avoid eating a large meal before a run. I hate to state the obvious, but here we are.

Depending on the timing—and length—of your long run, have something at least two hours before your run. Your breakfast should consist of an easy-to-digest, light meal.

Here are some good ideas to get you started.

Toast

Looking for a quick source of carbs before a long run? Look no further than a toast.

Toast is easy-to-digest and can be topped with nutritious spreads such as grass-fed butter or nut butter.

Bananas

When it comes to pre-run fueling, you cannot go wrong with a banana.

Not only are bananas a fantastic source of fast-releasing carbs, but they are also high in magnesium and potassium—key for preventing those dreaded muscle cramps on the run.

Oats

Overall, oats make for the perfect breakfast, making it the ideal pre-run snack to power you through your long run. Just keep in mind that some oat brands are high in fiber, so make sure to allow some time for digestion before you set out.

Do You Need To Eat Pasta Before A Long Run?

This is one of the most common running questions, and my answer is a simple No.

Loading on pasta is a long-held running myth that I’d like to demystify once and for all. Don’t get me wrong. I love pasta, and it’s a great source of carbs. It’s also easy to digest.

But, all things considered, carb-loading isn’t needed unless you’ve been severely restricting your calories for the rest of the week.

All in all, your body should have a good storage of carbs in the muscle in the form of glycogen.

Stay Hydrated

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced runner, hydration is key.

To make sure you’re making the most out of your long runs, you SHOULD & OUGHT to hydrate before the point of dehydration. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for your body to catch up if dehydration has already occurred.

When it comes down to it, staying hydrated is as important—even more important—than eating.

Don’t simply gulp a glass of water five minutes before a long run. Instead, make sure to sip all day long.

If you tend to run in the morning (just like I do), then try to meet your hydration needs the night before, then start drinking the moment you wake up.

Conclusion

There you have it

In today’s post, I’ve shared with you a practical list of tips and foods to pride yourself with the fuel you need to sustain your long runs without running the risk of stomach issues. The rest is up to you.

The best way to maximize your diet is to experiment with different foods and then discover what works best for you.