Your pre-run morning meal can make the difference between an extra couple miles and heading home with the trots. If you'd rather experience the former, choose tried-and-true easily digestible high-carbohydrate foods for your breakfast. Add in a little protein content, and you'll find the quick fuel you need without feeling weighed down on your jaunt.
Banana and Peanut Butter
If you're in a rush, grab a banana. It's easily portable, doesn't require any utensils and can be eaten quickly. Add a smidge of protein by smearing on some peanut or almond butter for just 200 calories. While it might not sustain you for a long haul, this works well for a short morning run.
In the May 2012 issue of PLOS ONE, researchers determined that bananas maintain blood glucose levels similar to a commercial sports drink. Those glucose levels help you keep your muscles going during a run. Bananas are also high in potassium, an electrolyte depleted during heavy sweat sessions. Another perk over those sugary sports drinks—bananas are much more cost-effective.
If you have a blender, you have an easy pre-run meal. Combine fresh or frozen fruit with milk or yogurt and flaxseed to make a smoothie. This is an ideal option if you're not really one to eat solid food in the morning or before a run, particularly if it's just a short one—30 to 45 minutes.
Thin out your smoothie with a few splashes of water. Not only will this make the smoothie easier to drink, it will also help hydrate you for the run. For a few extra vitamins and minerals, add a cup of spinach to the blender — you won't even be able to taste it.
Yogurt with Honey and Granola
Combine Greek yogurt for protein, a teaspoon of honey for simple carbs and granola for a little extra oomph, and you have a morning snack for less than 200 calories. Yogurt’s soft texture makes it easy to eat, while the honey and cereal provide a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, respectively. For an hour-long workout, this is just the right amount of nutrition
The simple carbs provide immediate energy to get you moving out the door, while the complex carbs in the granola help maintain your energy in the latter part of your run. The protein in the yogurt will also help keep you from feeling hungry in the latter part of your workout, which may also prevent post-workout overeating.
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Go back to childhood with old-fashioned PB&Js. A slice of bread contains complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy throughout the run. A thin layer of peanut butter provides a small amount of protein and fat, which promotes a feeling of fullness without weighing you down like more solid foods. If you want to add a little bit of jelly, it will only help boost your endurance via simple carbohydrates.
This classic combination is just as portable and is much less expensive than commercial energy bars and is easily adaptable to what you have on hand. Half a bagel or an English muffin with almond butter or chocolate hazelnut spread provides similar pre-workout benefits. When you're running for 90 minutes or more, a sandwich can give you the energy you need.
Your tastes and stomach sensitivities are likely different from your fellow running buddies, so your friend’s favorite pre-run snack may give you a stomachache. Experiment with different foods and portion sizes to optimize your pre-run fuel. If you’re racing, however, don’t try any food that you haven’t experimented with before a training run — this could lead to stomach troubles during your race.