Studies show that a pre-race meal is beneficial to any runner to keep your blood levels steady and provides energy to push you through—especially in longer races. Of course, every runner’s greatest fear is eating something that might upset their stomach on race day. You probably know already that foods high in fiber (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) and high in fat (fried foods/cheese/hamburgers) are definite no-nos. Your pre-race meal preferences will depend on individual factors, like your taste buds and the time you like to wake up before a race.

We asked on Facebook what your favorite pre-run foods were for any distance, and this is what you came up with!


If you have a lot of time before a race and are looking for a more protein-heavy meal, try scrambled eggs. Protein takes longer for your body to digest—so you’ll have to eat a couple of hours before the race begins—but eggs are a popular pre-race breakfast choice, especially for those who like something “real” for breakfast. Eating a breakfast like this, long enough in advance, leaves you well-fueled for a long race.

How Runkeepers Like It:

  • 5k- coffee, water, and bagel. 10k- coffee, water, and eggs. 1/2- coffee, water, and eggs with bagel.- Tom
  • Half bagel w/peanut butter. Few sips of coffee and water. Scrambled eggs for longer runs. –Dan
Bananas Breakfast before Running - Image via Keepon i
Image via keepon i


Bananas are a good source of carbs (30 grams), but also contain a significant amount of potassium (400 mg), a mineral that runners often lose through sweating. Potassium helps to regulate muscle contraction and prevent cramping. Bananas are a favorite and “safe” pre-run food because they’re easy on the stomach and unlikely to cause any GI problems. Especially good with yogurt, peanut butter, or granola.

How Runkeepers Like ‘Em:

  • Mix low-fat yogurt, 1 (frozen) banana, 1 spoon of peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of honey. –Jesper
  • Natural PB or almond butter with a banana wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Oh, and coffee. –Jennifer
Carbs Breakfast before Running - Image via Steven Depolo
Image via Steven Depolo

Refined Carbs

Processed grains like a plain bagel, white bread, or pasta are safe race day eats. While refined carbs aren’t as nutritious as whole grains, they’re easier to digest because the grain is already broken down. Adding a little peanut or almond butter to your bagel or toast is a good source of protein and fat, which helps make you feel fuller without weighing you down.

How Runkeepers Like ‘Em:

  • Hot Columbian coffee with hazelnut international delight creamer, a bagel with Philadelphia cream cheese and a peanut butter protein bar for my half and full marathon races – Mon
  • Sourdough English muffin, a little “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” and a stack of spinach in between. Get in my belly! –Rachel

    Oatmeal breakfast before running - Image via Daniella Segura
    Image via Daniella Segura


Oatmeal contains almost all carbohydrates, which is the kind of energy you need right before you’re about to run. Oatmeal tends to be more filling but is also a relatively bland food that won’t upset your stomach. While it might take a little longer to prepare and eat oatmeal than some of the other pre-race food options, it is still a great pre-race option, especially for those who prefer to eat an actual breakfast food for breakfast.

How Runkeepers Like It:

  • Oatmeal with cubed apples + cinnamon. Washed down with grapefruit juice. –Shawn
  • Oatmeal cooked in water for any race (prevent diabetes – The body shouldn’t run on empty) in addition to more than 10 miles a banana. Both + a bagel for over 20 miles. Lots of water the day before. –Jacqueline
Smoothie before running for breakfast - Feature image via Pamela Bates
Image via Pamela Bates


A fresh fruit smoothie with milk or juice is a good pre-run option, especially if you don’t like eating solid food in the morning. A liquid meal is also good for those who are likely to have a sensitive stomach either before or during the race. Liquid calories are easier to digest because they go through your system faster than solid ones.

How Runkeepers Like It:

  • Banana smoothie with chia and flax seeds. Extra chia seeds race day. –Kristine
  • Banana pancakes with a green smoothie on the side. –Sander

Keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to add something new to your nutrition routine on race day. Instead, experiment with some of these ideas and different portion sizes long before the race to optimize your breakfast.

Anything we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments?