What to eat before a long run

What To Eat Before A Run | Pre-Run Nutrition

Pre-run nutrition plays a pivotal role in the performance and endurance of every runner, serving as the foundation for optimal energy levels, muscle recovery, and overall well-being during long-distance endeavors. As athletes prepare to lace up their shoes and embark on their next run, understanding the importance of fueling their bodies with the right nutrients is paramount. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of pre-run nutrition, exploring the foods and strategies that can enhance performance, prevent digestive discomfort, and propel runners towards their fitness goals.

The Importance of Pre-Run Nutrition:

Consuming the right balance of macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—the night before a long run can help replenish glycogen stores, provide sustained energy, and support muscle repair and recovery. Here’s a breakdown of what to include in your pre-run meal:

Carbohydrates: Carbs are your body’s primary source of energy during exercise, making them a crucial component of your pre-run meal. Opt for complex carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, rice, and whole grains, which provide a steady release of energy without causing rapid spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels.

Proteins: Including a moderate amount of protein in your pre-run meal helps support muscle repair and growth. Lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, tofu, or legumes can complement your carbohydrate intake and provide essential amino acids for optimal performance.

Healthy Fats: While carbohydrates are your main fuel source for endurance activities, incorporating small amounts of healthy fats into your pre-run meal can help provide a feeling of satiety and sustained energy. Choose sources like avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, or fatty fish to add flavor and nutritional value to your meal.

What to eat before a long run

Example Pre-Run Meals:

Here are some balanced dinner ideas to fuel your long run the night before:

  1. Baked potato topped with grilled chicken and steamed vegetables.
  2. Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and lean ground turkey.
  3. Quinoa salad with grilled salmon, mixed greens, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Brown rice stir-fry with tofu, mixed vegetables, and a light soy sauce.
Remember to listen to your body and choose foods that you enjoy and tolerate well. Experiment with different meal combinations to find what works best for you in terms of taste, digestion, and energy levels.

What to Avoid:

While certain foods can enhance your pre-run fueling, others may lead to digestive discomfort or energy crashes during your workout. Here are some foods to avoid the night before a long run:

High-Fiber Foods: While fiber is essential for digestive health, consuming large amounts of fiber-rich foods like beans, lentils, broccoli, or bran cereal the night before a run can cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea.

High-Fat Foods: Foods high in saturated or trans fats, such as fried foods, creamy sauces, or fatty cuts of meat, can sit heavy in your stomach and slow down digestion, leading to discomfort or sluggishness during your run.

Spicy or Acidic Foods: Spicy dishes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, or acidic sauces may irritate your stomach and increase the risk of heartburn or reflux during exercise. It’s best to steer clear of these foods before a long run to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.

Alcohol and Caffeine: While moderate amounts of alcohol or caffeine may not directly impact your performance, they can disrupt your sleep quality and hydration status, both of which are crucial for optimal athletic performance. Limit your intake of these beverages the night before a long run to ensure you’re well-rested and adequately hydrated.

Hydration Strategies:

In addition to fueling your body with the right foods, proper hydration is essential for optimal performance and recovery. Aim to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day leading up to your long run, focusing on water as your primary beverage choice.

If your run is scheduled for the morning, consider drinking a glass of water before bed and another one upon waking to kickstart hydration. During your run, aim to sip water or a sports drink every 15-20 minutes to replace fluid losses and maintain electrolyte balance.

Experiment and Adapt:

Ultimately, the key to effective pre-run nutrition is experimentation and adaptation. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel during your runs and adjust your meals accordingly. By fine-tuning your fueling strategy, you can optimize your performance and make the most of every mile.


What you eat the night before a long run can significantly impact your energy levels, endurance, and overall performance. By focusing on balanced meals rich in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you can fuel your body for success and minimize the risk of digestive discomfort during your workout. Remember to hydrate adequately and avoid foods that may cause gastrointestinal issues or sluggishness. With the right fueling strategy in place, you’ll be well-equipped to conquer those long runs and achieve your running goals.