How To Fuel Your Long Run

How to ensure your long run is well-fuelled
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Run Fuelling

By Coach Alexa, We Run Coach for Reading and the We Run Virtual Running Club

What you eat the day before and the day of your long run does impact how the run goes and the training effect it has. It’s as important as fuelling the run itself to performance. The same applies to race day, so here are some tips on how to fuel well.


What To Eat The Day Before

The day before a long run or race, it’s best to stick to foods that are low in fat and moderate in fibre. This will make them easy to digest and will help to lower the risk of stomach issues whilst you are running. Add in some foods that contain complex carbohydrates to fill your fuel tanks with slow-release energy for the run the next day; brown rice, wholemeal pasta and pulses are great for this.

Keeping hydrated is absolutely key, as hydration has a big impact on performance. Make sure your wee is straw coloured and no darker. Well-hydrated muscles perform far better; just 2% dehydration has a noticeable impact on running and recovery.

Some ideal meal ideas are below;

  • Jacket potato – good filling ideas would be things like beans, tuna with sweetcorn, or chicken and coleslaw
  • Pizza – thin crust, tomato base, vegetable toppings
  • Pasta – wholewheat, tomato based sauces, vegetables, serve with salad. Use strong cheese to get flavour with less fat!
  • Hot pots and casseroles with lean meat; chicken, bean and vegetable with rice or cous cous
  • Grilled fish with veg, rice, noodles, salad, bulgar wheat
  • Puddings; bread pudding, fruit crumble with greek yoghurt, rice pudding
  • Sandwiches; wholemeal, chicken, turkey, eggs, salad

What To Eat The Morning Of Your Long Run

Complex carbohydrates, low in fat and low in fibre are great guidelines for your pre long run or race day breakfast. If your breakfast is more than two hours before your run, plan a snack to have 60-90 minutes before your run, to keep the energy stores topped up. This snack should contain more simple carbohydrates (i.e. be sweeter) as the fuel will be used up pretty quickly.

It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s best not to eat anything within the last 30-60 minutes before your run or race. There is a risk that eating can cause a drop in blood sugar, and this can impact your performance. It can also make you feel quite uncomfortable, and low on energy when you start running.

Some ideal snack ideas are below;

  • Cereal
  • Bagels
  • Bananas on toast
  • Yoghurt with raisins
  • Pot of rice pudding
  • Oatcakes with jam, cream cheese, nut butter
  • Banana or yoghurt based smoothies
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cereal or energy bars
what you need to know
  • What you eat the day before a long run will impact the run or race

  • How hydrated you are can have a big impact on performance

  • Making sure you eat within 2 hours of the start of your run or race will have a positive effect

what you need to do
  • Plan your food the day before a long run to have more complex carbohydrates and make sure you are fully hydrated. On the morning of the long run or race top up with a carb rich, easy to digest breakfast. Add in a snack pre run if there is more than 2 hours between breakfast and the start of your run.

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