What to Eat Before a Long Run – What I ate before this weekend’s race

Happy Wednesday!

This morning I started my day with 10 miles. I’m trying to pack in a good run before I travel tomorrow, but I am not fully recovered from this weekend’s trail race. I wish I could have taken an ice bath, but we couldn’t jump into Lake Arrowhead because of rules and blah blah blah.


I received a great reader question last week and thought I’d answer here – What do you eat before a long run??

“Do you have any suggestions for what to eat the day before and the morning of a long run?
Sometimes I have tummy issues:( “

Stomach issues while running or racing long distances is common (see: yesterday’s reference of runner’s trots). But you can plan your pre-run eats to help avoid any emergency trips behind a bush by figuring out what works and doesn’t work for your body.

I have been traveling for a lot of races recently so I’ve had to be flexible with what I am eating. This is what I ate the day before the race. I would eat similar before a long run. This is what works for this Monican, make sure you identify your own stomach issues and needs before trying something new. I don’t have any issues with dairy or high fiber foods before a run, but that is uncommon. Practice your nutrition in training! 

What I ate before this weekend’s half marathon:

Breakfast: The usual egg quesadilla. Plus a banana and PB, not pictured. Since I’m a salty sweater I add salt to my margaritas food – especially in the summer.IMAG6923

Snack: I switch out my usual snacks for more carb based choices before a race or long run. I had popcorn and an apple on the way up to Big Bear.


Lunch: Packed a picnic lunch. I did my usual salad…


Plus dessert! Hey, it’s carbs SmileIMAG6954

Snack:  I had a protein bar in here somewhere.

And an adult beverage. Plus tons of water to make sure that didn’t dehydrate me.


Dinner: My usual pre-run dinner is something starring salty carbs. I love Chinese take-out with extra steamed white rice and soy sauce.

IMG_2373 (800x600)

Since we were traveling I found another close option – Indian food ordered with mild spices. This would not work for someone with a more sensitive stomach. If you were eating with me I’d suggested grilled chicken and white rice without the curry and spices. Steve said this meal “didn’t do him any favors.” Noted.IMG_2374 (800x600)

If you have stomach issues on long runs I’d suggest avoiding dairy, high fiber veggies and anything very spicy the day before. Swap out high fiber bread/pasta for white versions<- crazy, right?! Not really. You want to treat your tummy like a baby and give it easy to digest options. I know the ‘healthy living world’ has crucified white carbs in the past, but the ‘runner’s world’ doesn’t think they’re all bad. It’s going to be okay.

bad things with carbs

What to eat the morning of a long run coming soon!

Question: What do you eat the day before a long run or race?


  1. says

    My pre-race (night before) food is Pizza. There is a local Pizza restaurant that makes great food using all natural ingredients, and it taste awesome. I haven’t run a “half” without it.

  2. says

    The day before I eat some oh so yummy PASTA!!! Which I don’t have very often so it’s a major treat! I agree with you about the crucifying of white carbs in healthy living land. Load me up pre-run sister!! :)

  3. says

    I’ve been known to have stomach issues so before long runs (usually first thing in the morning) I stick to simple foods such as a bagel with honey that is my go to pre-marathon food. I also stock up on gels and chews those always seem to help me!

  4. says

    I don’t change the way I eat the night before a long run, but for races, I’ll always eat something really carby with a little bit of protein (chicken quesadilla, pasta with ground turkey, grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches, anything Mexican or Italian).
    The day of a race or a long run, I’ll always eat a plain white bagel with peanut butter and jelly (loving Nuttzo lately), a banana, and a bottle of water. It works for me and gives me tons of energy, especially because I don’t eat a lot of “white carbs” in my day-to-day diet.

  5. says

    I don’t run super far (yet), so I don’t really pay attention to what I eat the day before a run. The day of, I’ll eat a Nutrigrain bar about an hour before the run to get something in my stomach, and then I’ll go. Sometimes for shorter runs (2-3 miles) I won’t fuel so my body gets used to going fast without relying on nutrients.

  6. Sarah G. says

    Race days: whole wheat mini bagel with peanut butter, 1/2 a banana, and a cup of coffee

    Long run days: either same meal as above, or one pouch of Better Oats Raw Pomegranate Oatmeal & Flax, 1/2 banana and a cup of coffee

    I start upping the carbs 3 days prior to a big race (10 miles or longer), and the night before can be anything from pizza to pasta to cereal, depending on my mood and how I am feeling. I also bring fuel for during the run or race, so I am never starving or running out of energy halfway through.

  7. says

    I always eat oatmeal/half banana and some pb before a race or really any run. I can even throw in berries to that, my stomach handles it all very well. The day before a race, I eat fairly normal just bump up the carb intake and make sure dinner involves a sweet potato and sodium.

  8. Shannon says

    Wow, you really do have an iron stomach. If I ate that the night before, it would not end well. I am a big fan of either having a turkey sub/sandwich the night before or sushi. Both seem to work well for me. The morning of the race I drink coffee with my favorite Odwalla super protein bar and maybe a banana.

  9. Allyssa says

    I’m a fan of chicken breasts (lightly seasoned or marinated) with carbs the night or day before a race. Something like rice, mashed potatoes with no gravy, sweet potato, etc. And veggies on the side. I don’t get much GI distress from vegetables so I typically don’t need to avoid them in relation to running. I also like pizza as a day-before meal. One thing I have discovered I cannot/should not eat before a race is anything seafood. No fish, no shrimp, all very very bad the next day when running!

  10. says

    For shorter races – I have a big meal with steak or something proteiny with potatoes/bread/salad for lunch and a small snack at dinner (pbj, fruit, etc). Longer races (olympic tri, half marathon, and beyond) I’ll have a club sandwich on white bread with a salad and potatoes (not fries) and for dinner, organic mac n cheese. Long, long races (half ironman, marathon, etc), I have a super heavy meal two nights before that may or may not sit well in my stomach to load up on calories and carbs, and then the normal for the day before.

  11. Nicole says

    I laughed out loud 3 different times during this post. You are a funny girl all the time though, I just don’t comment a lot. I have bad (read: the worst) tummy syndrome. Protein bar seemed to be good for me. Can’t drink too much water the day of either!

  12. says

    I have to fight to get those Kroger Seltzer waters… every time I go to the grocery, they’re out… of the 4 carton’s they stock… come on! Get more then 4 Kroger!!!

  13. says

    I love making homemade veggie sushi the night before a long run/race! I usually put in rice, yams, avocado and squash. All easy to digest.
    Instant oatmeal and a ProBar are my standard pre-marathon breakfasts. Then a pack of honey stingers right before the start!

  14. Annie says

    I once had some sweet potato wedges with chili with an indian soy burger and interestingly enough I had absolutely no issues but the following week I had sardines the night before my long run and I obviously had a hard time digesting because that morning’s run was not pretty!

  15. says

    I so envy your iron stomach! Experience has taught me to be careful with dairy and fiber before long runs or races. White pasta and sauce for dinner the night before, and an english muffin or toaster waffle the morning of. Then I will enjoy a cheesy omelet after!

  16. says

    I try to eat more carb-heavy the day before, like having toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pizza, rice, or pasta for dinner. The morning of a long run or long race, I like to make pancakes or French toast. And eat the whole batch, washed down with a large glass of iced coffee. I sometimes have watermelon with salt sprinkled on it, as well.

    Yea, I eat a lot before a long run.

  17. says

    For just early morning workouts, I’ve recently started to eat a pop-tart about a half hour before I go (is that bad?)… For races I tend to eat a bagel with peanut butter about 2 hours before the race starts. I’ve had issues with cramping in the past from eating too much or weird things before I run. This seems to be working for me now.
    I don’t really think too much about day before food…I guess I just try to eat the good stuff and stay away from alcohol as much as I can.

  18. says

    I eat lots of carbs just like everyone else, and before a race I can eat very little (a handful of cereal or piece of toast with pb). One thing I know I can’t have? Coffee. Bad bad bad experience 😉

  19. says

    I actually LOVE fresh veggies, salads, and protein during summer months — so before the Steamboat half this year, in the heat, salads and chicken/fish were ALL I wanted. Up until the day before, I stayed with a normal diet (salads, protein bars, lean mets, chocolate :) but the day before I ate primarily all carbs. Think bagel for breakfast, scone for snack, pasta dinner, gigantic 8 dollar peanut butter cup, etc. It worked for me, I absolutely PR’d that hilly sucker.

  20. says

    Either GF multigrain toast with PB or half a banana with PB with coffee 1-2 hours before a race. I try not to eat anything out of the ordinary the day before a race. I stick with food I’ve eaten before and haven’t run into many problems. I stay away from fried/fatty foods and eat something lean like chicken with carbs.

  21. says

    I’ve had thai food: pad thai or green curry w/chicken the night before a race (half marathon) several times. I’ve had wheat pasta with veggies & marinara. spinach omelet with toast. No science to it, just a semi-healthy meal with some carbs & protein. And a beer the night before has never hurt me either. What’s more important is sleeping & hydrating well the week or at least a few days leading up to the race.

  22. says

    I usually have a noodle or pasta or rice dish and curry is fine with me; I don’t typically have tummy issues. I can’t eat anything before my workouts or runs in the morning; sometimes even liquids eg coffee throws me off balance (puke-fest).

  23. says

    9 times out of 10, it is a past meal the night before a race. And if I can find one (if I’m out of town) I look for an Applebee’s and get their 3 Cheese Fettuccine with Chicken. YUM!

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