Running and food

Hi all,

Quick question.  I'm getting quite into the couch to 5k thing now and did week 5 run 2 last night - bit nervous about tomorrow though.  Got me thinking, as I'm going to be doing longer blocks of running in the not too distant future (assuming all goes well) - food......

What have people found works for them?  How long do you leave it after a meal before you go running and have you found that some foods make it more difficult to run or easier to run afterwards?  I normally run in the evening an hour or two after dinner as I get the children into bed before I can go out.


35 Replies

  • I run in the evening too but I do it before dinner.

    If , for some reason, I have to run after a main meal, I wait 2-3 hours (depending on how much I ate). If it is just a snack, I wait 30 minutes or 1 hour.

    The point is that when you run your blood shifts towards your legs; if you have food in your stomach, that might interrupt the digestion and make you feel ill (typically  nausea and vomit).

  • Yuk..but true:)

  • Thanks, I think I'll extend my ~1 hour after eating to ~2 hours.  I just know that there are longer runs coming up, so I want to put myself in a good position to be successful!   Thanks :-)

  • One more thing: if you are trying to lose weight, there is a further benefit in running *before* your dinner (or any other main meal), as it suppresses the appetite. 😉

  • Yes, trying to lose weight too, but I've heard that for men it's better to eat after exercise and for women, it's best to eat first before exercise.  It was on a series called 'Trust me I'm a doctor' so it must be true! ;-) 

  • I prefer to do fasted cardio. this usually means early morning before breakfast. So, 12 hours or so after food.

    usual food rules apply to what foods. Obviously heavily flavoured things like curry and kippers can repeat on you nastily during a run.

  • Yuk again...but again true:)

  • I'm glad you do a morning run without food as i;ve heard so many say you shouldn't but it is the way i find best.  Up, dressed, small glass of water to moisten my mouth and off i go.  Home for a nice shower and a bowl of porridge!!

  • My weekday runs (5km) are at 6am before breakfast. The most I have before the run is a glass of water.

    My sunday run is usually at about 10am (18km) I do this 2 hours after eating breakfast (normally a slice of toast with marmite).

    When I run after a meal I try to leave it at least an hour after eating.

    I havnt found any food yet that has disagreed with my running, but I tend to eat quite light meals before a run anyway.  I am vegetarian though, so cannot comment on all food types.

  • I'm not a morning person, but I think avoiding meat on run nights might be a good idea as meat is more difficult to digest.  Thanks for the tip :-) 

    18k on a Sunday - wow!!  That's good going, I'll be happy to run 5! 

  • I run at 6am as well and just have a banana before i go and take a water bottle with me.

  • I am with Rignold..I run early not sure on the evening runs. Take the advice of the others,, they know of what they speak!

  • Yes, there is a good pool of knowledge here, what a brilliant support!  :-)

  • I usually run in the morning and I have a swig of strong tea and a bite of something thats all. Unless I am on a long run, then its toast 2 hours before.... well done on your progress...

  • Thank you, I was really pleased with the two 8 minute runs last night as I was nervous the other week about running for 5 minutes!

    Once tomorrow is done, will be feeling pretty chipper I'm sure :-)

  • Like me... A cup of tea.. two digestive biscuits.. and I am off.. :)

  • Haha, a cup of tea would not be a good idea for me, I'd be stopping behind every bush!  :-D  

  • I think you'll find w5r3 not as bad as you think, my wife did it last night and said it seemed to go quicker without the walks, just go slow & steady..give it a few hours before running after meals.. Watch out for a stitch if you've eaten recently before running.

     Here's a book with good advice, open at the food & drink page..😊

  • Thank you, will take it steady tomorrow night - I don't think I'll have much choice! ;-)

    I've managed to avoid a stitch so far, but I think maybe I should leave a bit longer before running after food as I was only leaving an hour or so.

    Thank you for the link, will check it out.

  • I tend to run after work and before dinner but have a banana about 10 minutes before I go out.  Don't like running hungry!

  • I have to eat !  I can't run on empty. I have tried but my legs just quit on me. You will find what suits you over time.  For now you don't need any extra food

    I eat an hour to 90 minutes before leaving the house for my run. That's usually enough time for it to digest properly.  Running too soon after a curry is terrible. Don't do it!  

    A popular choice among running folks is peanut butter on toast about an hour pre run, but everyone will have their weapon of choice. You'll find what  yours is. Just another one of the fun things about running

  • Yes, that's 1 exception, you can have a banana immediately before running, I sometimes do, supposedly gives a bit of energy..

  • Thank you all for replying, some interesting comments there.  I'm really not an early bird, I did try a pre-breakfast run the other week and felt like I was going to black out.  I didn't and I'm sure I would have been fine, but I really didn't like it one bit.

    Will try to leave at least two hours after dinner before running then as I eat with the children before I bath them and put them to bed.  I'll keep run-night meals small and light, maybe veggie or fish on those nights.

  • It's person dependent.  I have low blood sugar so I need to eat before.  As long as it's not a huge meal, or anything too fatty I'm fine.  Experiment - you'll know when you've run too soon.

  • I run in the middle of the day, about 2-3 hours after breakfast, but I've found eating a banana 30-45 mins before running really helps with my energy. If I forget to eat one or there aren't any at home I definitely find myself struggle through the run.

  • I suggest running on a mostly empty stomach but with a mouthful of banana or yoghurt and a swig of water on board. This should really be ample to get you through any of the C25K 30 mins without feeling nauseous, or suffering cramps or stitch which can be caused by dehydration as well of course. I have to be careful due to IBS-D though. It's not pleasant to be out for a run and have to cut it short due to cramps and a dash for the loo. 

    Personally I also have to do 2 X 30 min walks a day with my dogs (too old to run with me) so fitting it all in is a challenge. I love the season of longer days as I seem more able to cope with it all with more daylight. I've done a couple of early morning runs recently on empty except a cup of tea. Glorious 😀 If you felt grotty ore breakfast perhaps give it a go on a banana / yoghurt just as you stumble to the door? The early mornings are truly beautiful times to be out and about and they set you up for the day...

    One other thing- I don't know how late you stay up but there is advice out there that excercising close to bedtime is not good for your sleep. May be worth considering...

    Good luck with it all!

  • Thank you, that's interesting.  I also have IBD and it's awful, but seems to be under control at the moment, thank goodness.  The only time I can run is in the evenings after dinner because of children etc and I don't like to eat later in the evening.  I've also found that I'm sleeping like a log at the moment, so I think I'm okay on that front, although my children do get me up in the night.

    I hope to do park runs once I've got to that point, so I think I'll be having a banana before I do those and breakfast afterwards, depends on what time they start I guess, but judging by responses, bananas are a good idea :-)

    I do a lot of walking too as I do an hours walk a day just for the school run and then I walk in the evenings if I'm not running.

    I've been okay so far, just aware of the longer runs coming up! *gulps*

    20 mins tonight!!

  • Good luck with that 20 mins- you can do it and you will feel elated with yourself when you do! Whoopee!!! 

  • Thank you! :-) x

  • Good point on the IBS-D, I also have it.  There are better foods than others to eat before a run, that's for sure.

  • I just have IBD and since starting the NHS 12 week weight loss plan (9 weeks ago), it has been a lot more manageable.  I'm eating a lot less rubbish (oh how I love chocolate and cake *sighs*) but I can now tolerate cream again (which I couldn't a month or so ago).

    Really delighted actually, as flare ups (as I'm sure you know) can be pretty miserable and when I need to go, I NEED to go.....

  • Yes indeed. IBS-D totally put the mockers on my running shortly after graduation and I had to develop new strategies so I could get back out there... It all takes time out of the day though doesn't it!

  • Well done for getting out there, with a problem like that, it can be daunting just leaving the house some days.

  • it IS interesting..  and shows you that there are seemingly no hard and fast rules.. ( beyond don't run too soon after a large meal/ certain spicy foods) There are other, much more experienced runners than ME here but I never find early morning works for me ( feel like I'm running on ' empty') but i'm NOT an ' early morning person' anyway so needs a good few cups of coffee before i can face the world..  

    As for myself, early evening, after work, pre food  with , if necessary, a SMALL snack (of any sort crisps, banana , chocolate, biscuit ) to take ' edge' off before running..

    Trick I guess is to find out what works for YOU..  ( rather than follow anyone else's pattern) ?? 

  • Hiya,

    Yes, I agree that we are all different, I'm like you in that I don't really do mornings - well, no more than I have to.

    I think it's just good to ask because you never know what trends you'll discover or what good tips you'll pick up.

    The majority of people on here are more experience runners than me :-)

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