Tara Tomaino, RD
T&B Nutrition Director
Dinner the night before a run should be balanced and contain a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. The runner may want to steer clear of high fiber vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower if they are prone to GI distress. Loading up on large quantities of carbohydrates is not necessary the night before a run. Carbohydrates should make up a part of the meal, but including protein and vegetables are also important. When training for a race, it is wise to experiment with different dinners before long runs and then try to stick with what works best the night before a race.
I recommended eating before a run so that you are properly fueled for the activity. It is especially important for women to eat before exercising as they perform better in a fed state and are prone to low-energy availability which can alter hormone function. What you eat will depend on how much time you have before your run.
Breakfast before a run should contain carbohydrates, a little protein, and maybe some healthy fat depending on how much time you have. If you only have 30 minutes or less, a piece of toast with jam or honey, or a small banana with a handful of nuts, or a bar like Picky Bars or Clif is enough. When you have at least an hour before your run, toast with nut butter, fruit (banana, orange, grapes, berries), or a bowl of cereal would be good choices.
Coffee is okay to drink the morning of run – just be sure you are also drinking water and have access to a bathroom (coffee can help get things moving) before you hit the road. Avoid adding high-fat ingredients to your coffee as they may cause GI distress while on the run.
Before running avoid eating high fiber and high fat foods as these nutrients can cause GI distress while running. It is best to practice with different foods before runs while training and stick with what works best for you on race day.