What should you eat before your Saturday Parkrun, or any 5k race?
You want to feel full of energy yet not so stuffed that you get stomach ache.
Here are 5 great breakfasts to try that will help you run a terrific 5k and get the weekend off to a storming start.
If eaten 90-120 minutes before Parkrun porridge will give you all the energy you need. Add some raisins or banana and a drizzle of honey and you'll up the energy levels even more.
Oats are a slow-release form of complex carbohydrate, meaning they do not spike your blood sugars, instead oats give you sustained energy that releases gradually.
Perfect for a short, sharp 5k run.
Top tip: use the milk that suits you. Or stick with plain water.
You needn't miss out on weekend pancakes. If you plan ahead a little pancakes can make a great breakfast to fuel you to a Parkrun PB.
Avoid refined white flour, use buckwheat instead to maximise the nutritional value. Buckwheat is gluten-free so suitable to Coeliac's and anyone sensitive to gluten.
If you prepare a simple batter the night before and store it in the fridge overnight you'll be ready to go first thing Saturday morning. Once cooked the pancakes could be topped with warm berries, or eaten plain on the go.
Batter recipe I love:
100g buckwheat flour
300ml milk (whatever type suits you)
3} Banana and coffee
If you are the kind of person who rolls out of bed and almost straight out of the door on a Saturday morning then the first two breakfast options are not going to work for you.
You need something mega quick and easy to grab as you are getting your running kit on.
A banana will fill you up and give some energy, with the added benefit of being rich in potassium and magnesium, vital minerals for runners.
Coffee is well studied to improve running performance in some athletes. Same with beetroot juice and cherry juice.
The key thing with this breakfast is timing. Banana and coffee work much better in the half hour to 45 minutes before starting running, they give that short sharp energy boost.
4} bagel and nut butter
Was slightly reluctant at first to post this breakfast option as 20 odd years ago I went for a Sunday morning run after eating peanut butter on toast and lets just say it did not go well....
However, other runners swear by nut butters to fuel them through morning runs.
Bagels, especially if you choose wholemeal versions, provide great energy from the carbohydrates they contain. Nut butters are packed full of protein and vital vitamins and minerals.
As with porridge, bagels are best eaten 90-120 minutes before running to allow time to digest. We all have our own unique 'sweet spot' in terms of time between eating and running. Some runners need a good two hours, others have stomachs of steel and can make do with much less. Trial and error is the way to go.
5} breakfast bar
Breakfast bar, oat bar, granola bar..... whatever you want to call them. Basically those portable snack bars that are oat based with added extras like dried fruit.
Sure, these bars can be loaded with sugar and are not generally healthy food choices, but in the hour before a 5k run they can be perfect for giving that energy boost your body needs to nail your run.
Again, oats provide slow-release energy which is what you need during a 5k run. And the dried fruits and sugars will give a quick release right before you set off.
And of course......
Water. Hydration is crucial.
Whichever breakfast option you choose, and even if you skip breakfast completely before Parkrun, you must drink water and hydrate. Your body and mind will suffer if you try to run 5k without having taken any fluid on board.
Nothing special is needed. Just a large glass of plain tap water and you'll be ready to go nail your run.
Whatever you choose to eat before your Saturday morning run, make sure it's something you enjoy. We are all different, just because that guy who always finishes a minute ahead at your local Parkrun eats a huge bowl of porridge pre-run doesn't mean that is the best option for you.
Experiment and see what works best for you.
As a registered Nutritional Therapist and sports nutritionist I work with a variety of runners, all with unique health and performance goals.
Questions or need some alternative breakfast ideas? Contact me here.
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Helen Morton, registered Nutritional Therapist and sports nutritionist, runner and food lover, sharing latest nutrition research and recipes.