Nutrition & Weight Loss

Tips for Eating the Night Before a Long Run

Tips for Eating the Night Before a Long Run

I’m training for my first trail marathon. Any good tips for what I should eat the night before my long runs?

I often suggest going a little more conservative with eating the night before long runs especially because new runners tend to have a more sensitive gut. You may find by simply getting used to covering the distances you will experience less during- and post-run bowel issues or upset stomach.

In taking a conservative approach I suggest the following:

Limit the fat - Options like Friday night wings, 8 oz. steak, creamy pasta sauce, and pizza thick with cheese may not be the best options. Have a smaller serving of some of the fatty choices if you decide to eat them and eat more of the low fat high carbohydrate options.

Bump up the carbohydrates – Carbohydrates will stock glycogen stores and help fuel your long run. Be sure not to neglect adequate carbohydrates. If you have a large dinner salad meal, top it with carbs like brown rice, quinoa, or couscous; and compliment the salad with whole grain bread.

Define if you are sensitive to fiber – Fiber can work just fine in the pre-long run meal if you are used to it. Others may have a sensitive stomach to a meal rich in fiber. This may especially hold true if the first half of the day was already high in the fiber.

Define if you run well with the higher fiber options like high fiber pastas, raw vegetables, and beans. It’s OK to switch to lower fiber options the night before a long run or race. Work those fiber-rich options back into the diet throughout the day after the run.

Include lean protein – You can still include lean proteins in the meal like lean chicken and fish. This isn’t the best time to go for the 8 oz. steak, fatty sausages, and wings.

Hydrate – Be sure to drink plenty of fluids the night before to help you go into the run well hydrated. A sign of proper hydration is to check for light colored urine.

Meal timing – You may want to consider the timing of the meal. If you eat a big meal right before bed it will be harder to pass before an early morning run. This could contribute to GI distress or even a bathroom stop on the run. Consider leaving 10-12 hours from the time of your last big meal to the start of the run. Have a light evening snack if this ends up a little too long of a window. And, don’t forget to wake early for breakfast.

Define what you don’t do well with – Since you may be traveling for the marathon it may not be feasible to cook your own meal the night before the race. Determine what really doesn’t work well for your pre long run dinner. This will help you decide what options to make if you are dining out the night before the marathon.

Good Luck!


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This post was written by:

- who has written 4 posts on Trail Running Club.


Jackie Dikos is a Registered Dietitian with board certification as a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. As the owner of the nutrition consulting business, Nutrition Success, Jackie counsels both athletes and non-athletes alike. She speaks on nutrition, health, wellness, and exercise in a variety of settings including clubs, expos, conferences, and the corporate environment. She maintains a blog that is dedicated to the promotion of health, wellness, and the education of endurance athletes at www.nutritionsuccess.org. She is a contributor to Running Times Magazine with her monthly column “Fueling the Runner.” She has also been cited as a source in other popular magazines including Runner’s World, Women’s Running, and Shape.

In addition to her professional background Jackie is an accomplished runner. She competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Team Trials in the marathon. She earned her 2012 Olympic Trials qualification as the winner of the 2010 Monumental Marathon with a personal best of 2:45:25. Jackie doesn’t limit her athletic endeavors to simply running. She can include summiting Mt. Rainier to her list of accomplishments. Although she is a member of PowerBar Team Elite, Personal Best Training, and the Athletic Annex Running Club, her favorite training partners are her two little boys.

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