Running on empty (stomach)?

I attempted to do W1R1 (a long time ago) more or less as soon as I got up. It was a bit of a disaster, and ever since then I've tended to go out a couple of hours after I've had breakfast. I know that many people run first thing in the morning and I'd like to do that so that my day is less broken up. How can I do that without waking up so early to have breakfast?


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32 Replies

  • Thanks! Useful and interesting link.

  • In what way was it a disaster? Do you mean you felt too hungry? Or did you feel faint or dizzy? Did you have a drink before you went? In theory most people who are basically healthy should be able to do short runs before breakfast, I think, but should have something to drink before they go out.

  • It was a disaster in the way it is for a lot of people starting C25K, I think. Tried to go too fast, was running uphill some of the time, didn't manage to finish the workout. I think it all conspired to make for a traumatic W1R1 and going out before breakfast may have only had a little to do with it, but I haven't dared do that again! I don't remember whether I had something to drink beforehand, but I always do now, as well as stay hydrated throughout the day.

  • Ah, nasty! Poor you. But, now you are more experienced, I'd give the pre-breakfast run a go. I really like to do it, breakfast tastes sooooo good afterwards :)

  • Like you, I prefer to go out a few hours after breakfast. Having said that, at the beginning of the programme at least, this is purely a psychological thing - even if it feels like the sixty seconds last a month.

    So if you want to be a morning runner, you have a perfect opportunity to start the habit now that you're re-starting the programme at week 1. By the time you get to the longer runs, you'll be in the habit already of running on an empty stomach.

    Good luck!

  • That first Week 1 run was a few years ago now, and I've been through the programme a couple of times, but still don't run first thing. I'm back at Week 8 at the moment, so I think I'll finish with Week 9 and then try 'retraining' for pre-breakfast runs after that.

  • I would say same as others, drink before you run. I find if i run before 9am i dont need to eat first. Much after 9am means I eat porridge and half banana at least hour and half before the run. For parkrun for example I always have breakfast before leaving home.

    What I have learned is we are all different and need to find what works best for ourselves.

  • A cuppa and two digestive biscuits...I run early and it suits :)

  • For a longer run I have a couple of those Belvita biscuits with a cup of tea and then go. Short run just a cuppa. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world but easy to digest - especially if you dunk them in the tea.

  • Ah, that's an idea. Will go and stock up!

  • I usually drink a cup of green tea and eat a banana an hour before my run. Sometimes I skip the banana. Hydration is very important!

  • We are all different. I can't run before breakfast but many people can and do. Likewise I can run quite happily within half an hour or so of a decent sized meal whereas others struggle.

    Experiment a little and see what works for you.

  • NO WAY can I run on anything in my stomach. I might take a small drink of water if I feel a bit dehydrated on awakening but solid food...nope.

  • I'm the opposite to just about everyone else here. I have occasionally tried early morning running, and it just Does Not Work for me. Late evenings, on the other hand, are fine. Last night was my latest yet, as it was 10pm as I set out...

  • That's a good point. Different people perform better (at all things, not just running!) at different times of the day, early birds, night owls etc...

  • I run on empty and have managed up to 12k with no food. I do drink some water though, but not too much or it sloshes around. It's a great way to start the day and certainly I have no problem with 5ks. On the 12k it was a real struggle from 10k onwards and that may have had something to do with food. Or it may mean I'm just not ready for those distances yet!

  • It's interesting, isn't it. I started my C25k journey by getting up, drinking water, running on empty and having breakfast afterwards, and I have a real mental block doing it any other way. Food repeats on me, I get stitch, somehow it never feels right. I am convinced it's all in my head but I have a strong preference for running at that time of day and in that way.

    However, so long as I am hydrated I can now happily run for over an hour before breakfast, and boy, does that breakfast feel good when I get back.

    I had a similar mental block if I went out without a bottle of water when I started, but thankfully fixed that during my first proper running winter.

  • I run first thing in the morning before breakfast. I have tried eating before I go out but it just made me feel heavy & the run wasn't so good, likewise with leaving it a while after eating. Empty stomach works for me but the night before a run I have a meal of carbs & protein & that seems to work well. Hydration is important so I always have a some water before I go out but not too much because it sloshes around. Experiment a bit and find out what works for you, we are all different.

  • I run in the evenings twice a week and in the morning on weekends. I usually eat a bit before I go. A small portion of oatmeal with milk and a banana. And I drink a glass of water. But I have run up to 10k on an empty stomach without problems.

  • I have a fear of even walking if hungry so running on empty was a big challenge. I suffer from that low blood sugar feeling (I get dizzy, sweaty, shaky, panicky and think I'm going to collapse).

    So for me I needed to address my sugar addiction first.

    So I think k it is in part to do with what you eat rather than when. Since I started avoiding simple sugars and managed a 24 hour fast without the low sugar panic thing I was then able to go running without breakfast.

    Try avoiding sugar and eating simple quality high fat and protein food (and complex carbs) for a few days to sort out your blood sugars then try running on empty.

    I never thought I'd manage it and I did so yesterday. On dinner the night before I ran 7km in the morning, drank tea and water all day and didn't feel hungry til supper time (then I happily ate a lovely cooked dinner).

    Sleeping better too.

    For me, it's all about sugar.

  • I just have a small pot of natural yoghurt and a small glass of water. I find that enough to get me through 30-40 mins running. I'm not particularly hungry when I get home but have my proper breakfast then anyway. Good luck completing weeks 8 and 9. You're so close, well done. 😊

  • Interesting to see all the different preferences! I always used to run on just a glass of water and a coffee (very important!) before a run, and always ran first thing in the morning. As I increased my distances up to 5k I might eat a slice of Leerdamer or Jarlsberg cheese - very easy as they are pre-sliced! Now I am doing longer distances up to 12k I do have a small amount of porridge a couple of hours before I go out. I found that although I can still run a 10k without eating beforehand, I feel tired towards the end. Porridge helps with that. Water is the key though - can't run if I'm dehydrated, and that starts the night before.

    Good luck with completing the programme, and happy running :)

  • I only ever have a milkshake about half hr before I run but I do get up early, around 6 am ish so I'm off out fairly early.

    I've never been able to go to the gym after eating so I think running would be worse!

  • Interesting idea. Maybe a smoothie would do the job.

  • Ooh yes would be good too, just find something like that is enough to stop me feeling hungry but not heavy on the stomach :-)

  • I have a glass of water before going out running straight after getting up and nothing to eat. It's been fine for me but i am used to getting two children up and eating breakfast while driving to work!

    I have found if i eat dinner early the evening before, say 5pm and don't eat again before bed i struggle more with the next morning.

    Wishing you all the best for getting running again.

  • Thanks!

  • I'm another who just can't run on empty, I've tried it twice but it always results in a very hard run that feels like a chore.

    By the time I've been up for two hours, sorted out my horse and ridden I need food before I can even think about food, a banana will do it, half an hour before I run, but no way could I run without something in my tum.

    I much prefer evening runs myself, before my evening meal is fine but if Im hungry not a chance no matter how hydrated I am.

    Were all just different and there's nothing wrong with that at all. Horses for courses :D

  • I like to get up early enough to have a couple of dried figs and a few walnuts with a cup of coffee. That's worked better than energy bars etc.

  • Thanks, everyone! Plenty of food – for thought, if not necessarily for breakfast :)

  • I can't do anything straightaway after I wake up. I have to have half an hour for my body to start functioning. That said, as long as I've had a hot drink during that time I can go out running without having eaten.

    I like being out early(ish) in the morning, but I actually run quicker in the afternoon.

    You could maybe try getting your body used to having breakfast later in the day, first, and then add in the run later?

  • I know what you mean. I'm not the sort who can leap out of bed in the morning. First my mind wakes up, then my eyes eventually decide to join it. My body ponders for a while then resigns itself to the fact that it has to follow.

    Sometimes my breakfast is quite late as it is – more like a brunch, really. So I'm keen to become more of an early starter (runner!).

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