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I lack wisdom on this but I have been drinking coffee in the morning before going out and holding off on food until I get back. Then again I only know enough to get in trouble.
Started C25K - 3/6/2012
Graduated C25K - 6/4/2012
SNA 5k By the Bay, 5/18/2012 - 29:25
Gaspee Days 5k, 6/9/2012 - 29:39
I like to run first thing in the morning. Generally I'll eat a half or even just a quarter of a banana and make sure I drink some water before heading out to run. I find this works well for me and have no problems. I love my coffee, but I don't drink any before running....just water. I would think if you wanted to eat a normal breakfast, you would need to wait a bit before running. I'm no expert though, so maybe others can help you more.
Harvest Hustle 5K - 27:28 11/17/12 PR
Run to Live 5K - 30:25 9/29/12
Started C25K on 10/20/11
Graduated C25K on 12/17/11
You will probably get as many different answers to your question as there are runners - everyone has their own personal preference here.
As for me, I've been running in the early morning for many years. In training, I run distances between about 4 and 9 miles. My preference is to run "lean and mean" - I don't eat before I run. I may drink a half cup or so of water or black coffee, but that's it. There's also a very practical aspect to this, especially during the week, before work, when I usually run at dawn. If I were to eat breakfast first, I'd need to be eating about 4 AM, and I guarantee I'm not getting up that early just to eat. The extra two hours of sleep will improve the quality of my run much more than the food. Even on weekends, when I usually run at around 8 or 9 AM, it's nice to catch up on a bit of extra sleep before heading out - same net result. I then do coffee and breakfast when I'm done.
If your preference is to eat something before you run, the prevailing wisdom is to keep it light and carbohydrate-rich. Some of the classics are bananas, oatmeal and bagels (or any other form of bread), but again you'd need to experiment to determine what's best for you.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills 5K, Ontario, CA, 25:17
@ 10K: (coming soon)
This is all personal preference, but for me. I don't like to eat anything before I run in the morning. I try to drink something that's hydrating first thing when I get out of bed, water, raspberry iced tea, etc, then by the time I'm stretched and warmed up I don't have all that liquid 'bouncing' around in me.
When I'm done I'll have my coffee and something healthy to eat.
5k - 24:26
5k Trail - 24:57
5 Mile - 39:52
10k - 51:19
10k Trail - 53:15
I operate very similar to snerb... I generally only hydrate before a morning run unless it's a race, or a distance above 12 miles. If that's the case, I'll have a breakfast with granola and bananas and wait 1-2 hours before heading out. I run a lot of double-days, too, and in the afternoon I generally will have a carb-rich snack about 2 hours before my run. For me, 2 hours is an optimal wait time before heading out.
Just to put it out there, I have run several times right after eating (as in <15 minutes wait), and it was generally out of scheduling concerns. If you can avoid this, I highly recommend it. While it's not as dangerous as swimming right after eating, you still don't feel all that great when running right after a meal. Definitely don't try a hard effort--an easy recovery pace is best if you have no other option.
I have to eat, but try to limit my fluid intake. I am not going anywhere or doing anything without coffee, so that is a given. On race days, I have to limit myself to 1/2 of a granola bar, 1/2 bananna and a small serving of raisins. Basically, a few sips of vitamin water and that is about it...otherwise I will get an upset stomach and side stitches after mile six.
I like to run in the mornings and when I've eaten something simple in the past - like a banana - I usually end up cramping after 15-20 minutes. Now I choose to get up, use the bathroom, drink a little water (maybe), and then head out with as empty of a tank as possible. I seem to do better this way.
It depends on what I am doing. If it is a short run (less than an hour) I am better off just drinking 1-2 glasses of water and maybe a cup of coffee.
If it is more, then I tend to eat something light, such as a banana and some yogurt along with some water and coffee.
On runs less than 30 minutes I just go. For 30-60 minutes I take some water. For more than 60 minutes I take gatorade and usually take something to snack on the way - raisins, bananas or power bars of some kind.
OVER 50 PRs
5K - 31:50 5K La Joya 2011 - Aug 2011
10K - 1:14:30 at Guayaquil Half Marathon - Jul 2011
Half - 2:32:22 at Guayaquil Marathon - Oct 2011
InterAmerican Family Fun Run (5k) 36:04 (Previous Year 39:22)
Emelec 5K 33:16
15 June - 5K Ciudad Celeste
22 June 5K por los Ninos
1 July - Guayaquil Half Marathon
5 August - 5K La Joya
2 September - 30K Milagro
7 October - Guayaquil Marathon
18 November - 5K Villa Club
2 December - 5K DM3
My preference is like many others here-I hydrate but don't eat and don't overdo the hydration....except when I'm doing a long run then I eat a Reeses Peanut Butter cup about 15 min before going out....so you may wonder why Reeses....I have no idea. I just happened to do it once and had a great run that day so I made it "my thing."
Embrace the Journey
I'm still quite new to running and thought I would share what I've established to be good for me. I run on an empty stomach but the best investment I have ever made was my runners belt which carries my water bottles (and my asthma pump) so I have water on hand at any time that I might need it for my run. For a longer run (10km upwards including a half marathon), chocolate flavoured milk and a banana does wonders!!!