The Perfect Breakfast for Every Runner

No matter your dietary restrictions, there’s a ‘magic meal’ to power you through your morning workout. Find it here.

The age-old question “What should I eat before a long run or race?” plagues every runner. An ideal pre workout meal is high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat – the latter two are harder to digest, and can cause GI issues. Try different meals during training to see what works for you, and give yourself two to four hours to let things settle.
Here are six to choose from:

4 low-fat frozen pancakes topped with 1 sliced banana and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Serve with 1 cup low-fat milk.

The carbs top off your muscles’ glycogen stores, which are essential for endurance athletes, says sports dietitian Angie Asche. “Quick-acting carbs may also increase your performance and your time to exhaustion.”



2 cups rice cereal with 1 cup low-fat milk. Serve with 1 cup grapes, 1/2 cup diced pineapple, and dash of cinnamon.

Runners with Coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity can find carbs from gluten-free grains and fruit.


Weight Loss

3-egg-white omelette cooked with olive oil spray and seasoned with black pepper and sea salt. Serve with 1 toasted English muffin with 2 tablespoons strawberry jelly, 1/2 cup sliced pears, and 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk.

If you’re trying to trim your waistline, the worst thing you can do is skimp on your pre-run fuel. “Cutting carbs would be very detrimental to your performance,” says Asche. Post-run, refuel with lean protein and complex carbs, but lay off indulgences like sweets and alcohol. Opt for a smaller dinner such as a sweet potato, a small chicken breast, and a cup of Brussels sprouts. A registered dietitian can create a nutrition plan for your specific training and weight-loss goals.

Vegetarian or Vegan

1 1/2 cups cooked instant oatmeal made with water and 1 tablespoon peanut butter, topped with 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup defrosted frozen peach slices, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and pinch of nutmeg.

Vegetarian and vegan runners should focus on their intake of protein, iron, and B12 (non-meat sources are fortified breads, juices, and cereals). For best absorption, pair iron-rich foods (like oatmeal and raisins) with sources of vitamin C – found in many fruits and veggies, including peaches.


Sensitive Stomach

Smoothie made with 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1 large frozen banana, 1 cup low-fat milk, 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yoghurt, 3 tablespoons instant oatmeal and 1 tablespoon honey.

The stomach empties liquids significantly faster than solids. But a smoothie won’t necessarily cure your GI woes. Keep a food journal while you train, noting foods and spices that cause GI distress before your long runs. “The night before a long run, keep things bland,” says Collingwood.



175g plain soy yoghurt with 1 diced apple and 1/2 cup low-fat granola, topped with 1 tablespoon honey. Pair with 3 scrambled egg whites cooked with olive oil spray and seasoned with black pepper and sea salt.

Dairy sources, like yoghurt and milk, offer protein and carbs – both crucial for performance and recovery. Unlike many dairy alternatives, which provide carbs but lack sufficient protein, soy-based yoghurt has both. Paired with egg whites, it’ll give you an extra boost.

Subscribe to Runner's World

Related Articles