Pre-Running Snacks: What to Eat Before a Run

April 13, 2016

The burning question: what to eat before a run? The answer depends on when you want to run. Running first thing in the morning requires a different approach to when you run later in the day. Whatever time of day you decide on, we've go you covered with these healthy pre-running snacks. Here's what to eat before a run...

Pre-Running Snacks: What to Eat Before a Run

Deciding on when you're training dictates what to eat and when. Sounds easy right? Well the problem is that when you are planning your run around a busy work schedule, your brain, leg muscles and stomach and will power don’t always stay in sync.

So we've broken down what to eat before a run to suit both morning and evening schedules. Here are some tasty pre-running snacks that will keep you going in the AM and PM as well as some handy tips.

Training in the AM

If you're an early riser and enjoy the prospect of running first thing in the morning to blow away the cobwebs and start the day fresh, then often the question is to eat or not to eat.

Ideally you should eat something in order to provide energy and get fuel to your muscles and brain to enhance your performance and maximise your run. However, you want to be sure that what you eat doesn't cause you to be sluggish or nauseous.

Wondering what to eat before a run in the morning? Here are some pre-running snacks that will keep you going if you're up and at it early. 

Pre-Breakfast Snack Options

  • Green smoothie: include something like kale, kiwi, coconut water and cucumber
  • 1 banana and ½ tsp of spirulina mixed with water
  • 2-3 oatcakes with nut butter of your choice
  • Red apple slices with a nut butter of your choice

All of these snacks provide enough carbohydrate for fuel, however are relatively low in fat and protein so you don't feel stuffed! Try to eat approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour before running - it can be difficult for some, especially in the morning. But this will allow your snack to be digested and enhances your overall performance.

Training in the PM

When training in the afternoon and evening, the key is balancing your meals throughout the day. This will help you maintain motivation in to the later part of your day and stabilise your energy levels so you can complete a good run later.

Motivation and will power are like two muscles. They have a tendency to weaken as the day goes on and often this weakness can be detrimental to maintaining a consistent training schedule.

Not sure what to eat before a run in the evening? Here are some tips to maintain motivation and stabilise energy throughout the day, as well as some pre-running snacks for those later runs:

  • Never skip breakfast - start the day as you mean to go on. Fueling your body first thing in the morning sets the standard for the day.
  • Make lunch your main meal of the day. This should be your biggest meal of the day including complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats.
  • Always have a mid-afternoon snack - this should be approx. 1.5 - 2 hours before your afternoon or evening run. This is key as it will provide enough fuel for your run but it will also stabilise your energy so you are not ravenous and eat your way through the cupboard while making your evening meal!!

    Afternoon Snack Ideas

    • 2-3 oatcakes and nut butter of your choice and 1 apple/banana
    • Handful of dried fruit and handful of nuts (brazil, cashew, walnuts and almonds)
    • Overnight oat jar: include oats, berries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and milk of your choice
    • Slice of rye bread with ½ avocado mashed and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds
    • 1 hard-boiled egg, ½ avocado and 2-3 oatcakes


    You can also check our our blog for 'A Complete Guide to Healthy Smoothies' here.

    Checked and updated: 7 August 2021