Running on Empty (Stomach)

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT something before a morning run – that is the question. Opinion is divided, with emphatic claims on both sides. All you have to do is Google “running on empty stomach” to see for yourself.

I’d always had something small before my Saturday morning long runs, usually a banana and/or a Cliff Bar, for some carbs to help me through the first few miles. When I heard about the “eating beforehand or not” debate, I did some research, which only confused me (see above). But since I hadn’t read any stories of fasting runners dropping dead, I gave it a try, if only to find out if there would be any difference in my performance.

I’ve run several Saturday mornings now up to 14 miles without eating anything first, including this morning (just over 10 miles). To my surprise, I don’t notice any difference at all. How I feel at the end of the run depends on the mileage and the effort (such as pace and hills). So I’ve decided not to worry about it. If I’m hungry in the morning, I’ll eat something, otherwise not. But I always eat a good breakfast after the run – there’s consensus on that, at least.

When I run in the evening, I have a snack about two hours before, or I get hungry during the run and may overeat afterward. An apple with natural peanut butter or dark chocolate hits the spot just right.

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