To Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question

Three weeks in to my marathon training and have somewhat, kinda sort of conquered running in the morning. When I say conquered I mean I have woken up twice this week to run before work. This is a HUGE feat for me. As someone who was up at the crack of dawn a good portion of her life, diving into a freezing cold pool at an ungodly hour, before the sun was up; it is safe to say that morning workouts and I have seen better days. The thought of waking up before 5 and jumping in a pool has me laughing in the face of that thought. I digress. Morning runs/ workouts are great. You get them done when it’s not so hot and humid and your day is now sweaty free and open to do what you want or need to get done.


Besides tackling the weather, another topic that has been on my mind is food, and fueling before my morning run. As someone who sleeps til the last possible moment, rolling out of bed and out the door in 10 minutes, fueling for a run can pose a bit of a challenge. I am also someone who cannot workout without eating. I feel awful if I don’t eat. The reason for this awful feeling is that your body has used up its energy reserve called glycogen.

The graph below demonstrates our bodies use of glycogen and can be found here.

glycogen time curve

Our stores are out our lowest in the morning because we use these to fuel our brain at night. Our brain still needs energy when we sleep. So while our stores our low, these  glycogen stores are not empty . This is why some people can work out for for 30-60 minutes in the morning without eating. They still have some reserve. However eventually that person will hit the wall and start feeling fatigued,  tired, hungry, etc.  An easy way to fix this is to eat a protein bar, or a gu, or even have a sports drink. Personally the 90 calorie Luna Bars have been working for me.


Image found here

These are made to be easily digestible.  If this still doesn’t sound appetizing to you, about 20-30 minutes into your run, eat something little like a Gu, energy ball, a block, etc. Also make sure you eat a good meal the night before.  If you have a smaller dinner, you are more likely to be hungry on your run or hit that wall quicker due to less stored energy.

Now let’s say you are going for a longer run and want to be properly fueled for this run. The general rule of thumb is to eat 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight and then multiply that by the number of hours before you are going for a run.

So my friend who weighs 140 pounds is going to go for a morning run. She is planning on waking up 1 hour before her run to eat.

140 pounds  x 0.5 grams = 70 grams

70 grams x 1 hour= 70 g of carbohydrate.

Unfortunately for my friend she overslept her alarm and now she only has a 30 minutes before she goes running.

40 pounds  x 0.5 grams = 70 grams

70 grams x 1/2 hour= 35 grams of carbohydrate before she runs.

Now this is a GENERAL rule of thumb. This may work for you and it may not. You might a person who needs more or less food before they work out. However try it out. I never recommend anyone not eating and then working out for more than 30 minutes. Your workout will suffer, as will you.

So before you head out for that early morning workout, what will you be eating?







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