Want to be a great morning runner? Struggle to get going and have enough energy for the whole distance?
Here are 5 top tips to help you get going and run strongly every morning.
Always start a run well hydrated, whatever time of the day, whatever the weather.
Drink a glass or two of plain water to help wake you up and hydrate your whole body, whether or not you choose to eat any food.
Even low levels of dehydration can impact on running performance by reducing energy and making you feel sluggish.
Some runners (including myself) find a small amount of coffee before a run makes all the difference. Caffeine is used as a performance enhancing aid, however there is also a psychological element I believe. Matcha tea can have the same sort of effect, with a less intense caffeine surge.
2. Choose easily digestible foods
What you eat before a longer run is a very personal choice and you may need to experiment a bit before finding your perfect pre-run breakfast. Once found, most runners stick almost religiously to their individual food preferences.
Easily digestible carbohydrates are most runners choice. Fats and protein take too long to digest and will likely cause digestive issues a mile or two into your morning run, an unpleasant experience at any time.
Some foods that can work include:
Porridge (made with water) topped with honey and raisins
Wholemeal toast with nut butter (not a good choice for me but many runners like this)
Oatcakes spread with marmite
Granola (bar or bowlful)
3. Allow time for digestion
It is absolutely fine to run on an empty stomach if a short, easy run is in the plan. If you are doing a longer run, over about one hour, then eating before running will be helpful to ensure glycogen stores are adequately topped up, but how far in advance of running you eat is a very personal choice. Some people cope fine on a banana as they are pulling on their trainers, others need two hours to digest their chosen breakfast. Experiment and see what works for you.
3. Consider what you eat the night before
What you eat the night before a morning run, especially an early morning run on an empty stomach, is important too.
The old myth of eating a big bowl of pasta the night before a long run does have an element of truth, the carbohydrates eaten are stored as glycogen which is needed to fuel endurance exercise. Full stores of glycogen the night before a run mean you can get up and out without having to worry about topping up your energy stores, as long as you are out for less than an hour.
A dinner which is too fatty or high in protein can be hard to digest, resulting in a poor nights sleep and an unsettled stomach, so be mindful of intake and moderate if necessary
5. Be practical
OK, so not strictly nutrition tips for successful morning running, but helpful nonetheless.
Lay out your kit the night before, especially if you are planning on heading out early in the morning fueled solely by water. It is so much easier to get up and dressed if running kit is already prepped and visible in the bathroom (we all need the bathroom in the morning!) Trainers, watch and any drinks or food, ready by the front door helps too.
What do you eat and drink in the morning before running? Share what works for you
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Helen Morton, registered Nutritional Therapist. sports nutritionist, runner, Level 2 Fitness Instructor and food lover, sharing latest nutrition research and recipes.