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What If I Don't Have Time to Eat Before Running?

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Updated June 16, 2014

Young woman eating a healthy breakfast
Cultura RM/Patryce Bak/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

Question: What If I Don't Have Time to Eat Before Running?

"I get up really early and the first thing I do is go on a morning run. From what I understand, if I eat before a run, I should wait 1 to 2 hours before running. But that doesn't fit my schedule. What should I do?"

Answer: This is a very common problem for early morning runners. You're right that it's best to try to eat something about 90 minutes to 2 hours before running, so you have time to digest your food, you're fueled for your run, and you're not starving during your run. But that obviously doesn't work for everyone. You'll run stronger if you're properly fueled for your run but, if you're running for under an hour, you can get away with not eating before. But definitely make sure you're hydrating before you start. You'll be dehydrated because you haven't had anything to drink for however long you've been sleeping. Drink at least 8 ounce of water when you first wake up. You should also drink water during your run if you're running longer than 30 minutes. You may want to drink a sports drink before your run so you know you're at least getting some calories.

For a run longer than an hour or even an intense speed workout, it's best to bite the bullet and wake an hour and a half early or more for a small meal. Eating a 300-500 calorie breakfast of mostly carbs will guarantee you're not running on fumes. Some people can get away with not eating at all before a run of any distance, but you'll have a better run if eat something before. If you're doing a long run and you really don't have time or your stomach can't handle pre-run food, try eating something small, such as an energy gel, about 30 minutes into your run.

Also see: Tips for Morning Runs

 

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