Blurry eyed but running

Blurry eyed but running
Dark mornings and colder, shorter days hardly make lacing up the shoes an easy task, but winter is a great time to build and maintain a solid fitness foundation. A moment of quiet before getting the family ready for the day, a consistent window in an unpredictable work schedule, or just personal preference (not something I relate to, sorry) you might find yourself switching up your runs to first thing in the morning. 

Recently I have started run commuting to work to make the most of daylight, get my exercise in (and quite frankly to gloat about beating the bus!). Cue having to adjust my morning nutrition to fit in with this early run.

There are physiological benefits to getting food in before your morning run. For a start, fuelling provides energy and helps to prevent our blood sugar level from dropping which can make us feel light-headed or uncomfortably fatigued in what would otherwise feel like an easy run. Fuelling also gives us the opportunity to hydrate – dehydration will slow us down, and equally keep us from getting the most out of our workout.

Your decision to fuel, with what and how much is always a personal preference. Some runners have no problem getting a bowl of oats in before their run, while for others the mere thought of food early in the morning has already turned their stomach. Throw in the added challenge of wanting to maximise your time from awaking to getting out the door, it is easy to understand why eating before your morning run may not be a priority. In an ideal world, we would wake up 2 hours before our run, eat a carbohydrate rich breakfast, drink water (and coffee), and let it digest and settle. For the rest of us blurry eyed morning runners maximising our sleep, here are a few nutrition tips and tricks to help you get the most of your efforts to run before your day starts.

Have a small, easily digestible carbohydrate rich snack, such as a banana, applesauce, a few crackers or a piece of toast - these often don’t require you to wait too long before your stomach is settled to go out for your run. Juice or a water diluted sport drink can provide the body with fast acting sugar and energy, while also hydrating us. Coffee also has benefits for the early morning run, by giving a boost of caffeine (and another reason to get out of bed). Carry a snack or gel with you, as you may feel more inclined to eat mid run, if eating pre run is not for you. Really not a morning eater - try adding a small bedtime snack, high in carbohydrates, as this will stay stored in your muscles ready for use in the morning. You may want to keep your runs short in duration and of low to moderate intensity.

Once back from your morning adventures, or at your desk - tuck into your favourite breakfast to help replenish your energy and set you up for the day. Muesli and yoghurt, bagels and peanut butter, eggs on toast, are good examples of recovery foods that help replenish our carbohydrates and include protein to help repair our muscles. 

Having a good breakfast post run will also help fend off the mid-morning slump that has you rummaging for the biscuits (everything in moderation).

Happy morning running, team!

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