Fueling for the long run: Pre-run meals

If you’re going on a training run or race over 90 minutes, eating before you head out the door can help you maintain your energy levels and delay fatigue on your workout. Fueling up means you can get more out of your training. Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal one to four hours before you go. The more time you have to digest, the bigger your meal can be, and the more carbohydrates you can consume.

Nutritionist, Elizabeth Kasparek, at the Sanford Sports Science Institute in Sioux Falls, SDDo not wait until race week to practice eating before your runs. Instead, you should practice eating before long runs and take note of which meals make you feel the best, so you feel confident in your race day fueling plan.

These breakfast ideas below have between 75-100 g carbohydrates and moderate protein and fats to hold you over. Find what works for you and stick to it. There is no one-size-fits-all fueling plan, so it may take some trial and error to find the best fueling plan for your training.

Almond butter + honey toast + a banana

2 slices of wheat/whole grain toast with 1-2 Tbsp almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
1 Tbsp honey
Top with a sliced banana

PB&J Bagel + Berries

1 whole grain bagel with 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1-2 Tbsp jelly/jam
1 cup blueberries

Cinnamon Oatmeal + Granola

½ cup rolled oats cooked with 1 cup low-fat milk, a pinch of cinnamon, salt, a tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
¼ cup raisins/small box of raisins
¼ cup granola

Bowl of Cereal

2 cups rice Chex with 1 cup almond milk and 1 sliced banana
1 slice of toast + 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter

Sweet Potato with Nut Butter + Raisins

1 medium-large sweet potato
Topped with 2 Tbsp almond butter, 2 Tbsp raisins
Pinch of cinnamon and salt
1 apple, sliced
2 scrambled eggs


2 whole grain frozen waffles
2 Tbsp almond/peanut butter
1 cup blueberries
2 Tbsp all-natural maple syrup

Don’t have much time?

Within an hour of exercise, you don’t have time to digest a regular meal. Opt for a high carbohydrate snack to power you through. These options are also good if you’re running a shorter run (under an hour), or if it is a more intense workout (intervals, tempo run), or if you haven’t had anything to eat in a few hours.

  • Banana + peanut butter
  • Larabar or RXbar
  • Rice cakes + nut butter
  • 1 cup of dry cereal
  • Raisins + almonds
  • 2 homemade energy balls
  • ½ PB&J