Eating for Morning Races

Q How should I fuel for morning races? I’m training for both a half and full marathon. – DEB


A To perform at your optimum in morning races, you have to pre-plan and pre-fuel. Normally the advice is to eat a meal three to four hours before a race or long run, but breakfast at 3am doesn’t sit well for early morning racers. Here’s a plan that would work well for your races:

I like the idea of breakfast before bed to fuel a long run the following morning. I work with many athletes who get up early to work out, so eating something before bed helps refuel from the previous day and pre-fuel for the following morning. Gotta love multitasking! The secret to making this work is eating enough to allow you to sleep well; so if you’re thinking eggs, sausage and hasbrowns – think again.

Try these nighttime breakfasts:

  • a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit
  • a yoghurt, milk and fruit smoothie
  • a glass of milk with a waffle with syrup and a piece of fruit
  • an egg and ham sandwich
  • a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich with a glass of water

If you’re looking for morning fuelling ideas here are a few ideas:

  • Set your alarm for three hours earlier than normal to wake up and eat something light. Then go back to sleep.
  • Keep a small bag of trail mix or granola by the bed to munch on as you’re waking up.
  • Try something light but with substance like loaded oats, a breakfast smoothie (add some cereal for grains) or a low-fat muffin and yoghurt.

If you’re able to eat three hours before, you may want to “top off” your reserves 30 minutes before your long run or race – 235mL of sports drink, chews, gel or a little jelly should work fine. Experiment beforehand to see what works for you.

Make it a priority to get at least 590mL of fluid an hour before your run; if you can get fluid three to four hours and one hour before, you decrease the risk of inadequate hydration during your race.

Take the time to try out different strategies and you’ll have added peace of mind on race day. This is one of the variables on race day you can control, so own it, do it and run it! – LESLIE

Related Articles