interesting to see the variety of habits... we are all different and it's important to find out what works for you. I run without eating, but if I'm planning to go more than seven miles, I take a gu at about five miles and every three-five miles after that. And of course water in small amounts periodically. So I also plan my routes to go past a public restroom at least a couple times during the run.
but for race day: banana and triscuit crackers 1-2 hours before run time. Since I can't sleep anyway, there is always time. Plus of course I pack gu for the run. I've done four half marathons and am currently training for my first full marathon at the age of 48.
As a rule I never ate before I ran, I'd just get up and go, come back home and chow down. I can get away with that for 4 to 6 mile runs but once I started doing 10 miles I was wondering why I was getting light headed. Duh!!! So I say depends on how long your out there.
I have the benefit of being able to wait until 10am for my runs so I eat a normal breakfast and let it sit for a couple hours. However, for some cruel reason, races usually start around 7:30 or 8 so I just wake up drink some water, eat a bannana, and the 20 minutes it takes to stretch is enough time to let that settle. Then you can eat a normal breakfast when you get back. I have read that for best recovery: drink fluids immediately after work out, then stretch for 15-20 minutes, and eat your meal 30-45 minutes after that.
Good for you Eric thanks for sharing your experience and advise!! I think the gu and water is great along the trail....I may do a Marathon if I have qualifying time ever and with my brother's aid as he is an avid marathon runner. I am extremely resilient and cross train and swim instructor so it doesn't take much to get me on the trail.. I don't like hot weather running so really don't do it much at all. That's when i head for the water...sports.. good luck w your running!!
something else I thought of...
since I've been doing long runs (10-18 miles) on Saturday mornings, I've noticed that the quantity eaten the day before makes a difference. So I make a point of eaten larger meals (healthy of course) on Friday. One of the many benefits of running!
gu is actually a brand name... it's a high-carbohydrate gel substance (100 calories) that you ingest during endurance activities. Lots of flavors available, with and without caffeine. There are other brands out there, as well as chew varieties and liquids. For me, I need something or I completely run out of energy after 90 minutes or so.