Weigh In: How Much Time Do You Need?

I’m coaching a gal individually for her first half-marathon. I do the weekly long run with her on Thursday mornings. She’s naturally fast! (She just started running in February and she’s already winning races.) Running with her is definitely good for my speed, especially since I’ve slowed down on my weekend runs with Team Challenge.

This morning we ran 9 miles together and I asked her what she ate before we ran. She said, “Nothing! I just roll out of bed, get dressed, drink a cup of coffee and walk to our meeting point. If I ate I’d have to get up a lot earlier!”

I was a little jealous. I have to eat before running. In fact, I’ve been ordered to eat something by my dietitian. At the very least I have to get in some juice, so I have some calories. But anything over 4 miles I’m supposed to eat more than that. And once I’ve eaten something, I have to let it settle a little or else my gut will be angry. I usually go with a Luna Bar or Clif bar and some cranberry-pomegranate juice.

So I just thought I would open up the question to the Jill Will Run community:
If you were running 9 or 10 miles at 5:00 AM… how early do you get up before that? Do you eat something before or not? If so, what do you eat?

Just thought it would be interesting to informally poll everyone. Please weigh-in with a comment!


  1. Thought I’d reply as that is exactly what I did this morning–went out for 10 miles at 5:45 (would have been a little earlier if I’d got out of bed faster). Got up around 5:20 (5:00 alarm), threw on my clothes, ate about 7 chocolate covered espresso beans. I wasn’t going to eat anything else as I frequently do mem long runs on an empty stomach if it’s early and I plan to have breakfast later. But I felt a little nibblish so I had half a granola bar. I don’t think it was enough to be considered fuel. On mornngs when time is less of an issue I will have more of a breakfast then go out 15 min to an hour later. Running after eating breakfast doesn’t bother me much, though on race days I allow 1-2 hours (and adjust the amount accordingly) just to be safe. I don’t like to run in the afternoon though (weather aside) because having a whole day’s meals in my stomach makes me feel sluggish.

  2. I eat a bagel or something like that heading out the door. I never leave on a run without putting something in my stomach. You know me well enough to know my feelings on this.

  3. I’m jealous of her too! I need to get up, drink coffee, poo (that’s why I drink the coffee), eat something small, then head out. So I would have to get up around 4:15 if I was starting my run right out my front door. Ugh. That is an awful thought.

  4. I throw down some raisin bran about 30 minutes before I run/swim/bike/whatever.

    Don’t be jealous, what she’s doing isn’t terribly healthy. I don;t care how fast she is, that’s potentially damaging to her body.

  5. I’ve done 10 miles on no food but only occasionally to shock my body. Normally though it’s one hour so your body has time to digest the food. From everything I’ve heard you have your best workouts on a fueled body.

  6. I’d usually have to eat something small, like a granola bar or one piece of toast with peanut butter…and probably some juice. For a 5:00 AM run, I’d probably be up between 4:15 – 4:30.

  7. i would get up at 4:15 and wouldnt eat anything. i would drink a Gatorade Prime and take a gel at mile 4. gatorade every 2 miles.

  8. I’d probably set my alarm for 4:30, hit snooze once or twice, drag myself out of bed, get dressed, take a swig of water and go out the door. I can’t eat that early. In the winter when you can run later in the morning I sometimes eat a small breakfast before, but that’s cause I get up and have time to kill before running.

  9. Usually something small…a few bites of a Clif bar (and some coffee) usually consumed while I am driving to where ever I’m going to run. Sometimes I don’t eat anything, but this is rare.

    On a separate note, our track club coach this week recommended taking a morning shower before a long run! Now who would have time for that (a shower and breakfast before an early run?) Wow

  10. English muffin with PB for anything over 5 and a banana for anything under 5. If biking or swimming, I eat after I work out. And I take GU throughout the run (every 4 miles or so) and the bike (every 8 miles or so) to keep calories going in. When I am done, I usually have a chocolate millk until I figure out what I want to eat.

  11. I roll out of bed, use the toilet, get dressed and hit the trail. If it’s going to be a long, hot trail run, I may take a banana and might eat half of it before I pull into the trailhead, and save the other half for afterwards. Other than that, no, I don’t eat before running. It would sit in my stomach like a rock.

    On a separate note, I’m still traveling but finally have my computer connected to the Internet again and saw this post come through! I’ve been thinking about you a lot and hoping all is well. I won’t get caught up on blog posts til I get home in 2 weeks, though honestly I might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of reading and delete the entire reader just to start fresh.

    Stay cool in Vegas, I hear there’s been a horrible heat wave. Take care, Jill, I’m thinking of you!

  12. Love this question – it’s interesting to read all of the responses.

    Typically my stomach isn’t too picky before a morning run, but I know that I do better if I have food in it. For 10 miles at 5AM, I’d get up at 4:30 and ideally eat something like half a bagel with something on it like cream cheese – but it really depends on what random food I have in the house. Having a good pantry of food is not my forte recently. If nothing looks appealing, I always make sure I at least down a bunch of honey before anything say 6 or more.

  13. Hmmm for 9 or 10 I’ll eat something small, like a scoop of PB or half a banana. I might carry a Gu with me just in case, but generally I’m fine. If I do anything more than 10 I have to eat a piece of toast with PB. šŸ˜‰

  14. I find I enjoy runnning more if I eat 2 hours before the fun starts. On a perfect day I have eggs and whole grain rice.

    If I am rolling out of bed and running, then probably just juice and a bread with a gel at the starting line.

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