This is a really great question that I get often. There are some guidelines to get you started, but the truth is it’s a great experiment of one. You’ll need to practice to see what feels best.
What you should eat before depends on a few things such as: what time are you running, how long are you running, when did you last eat, and what do you know about yourself when it comes to running and food?
Easily digestible carbohydrates that can be quickly converted to fuel is going to be your safest best. For a typical run (whatever that is for you) up to and around the hour mark, 200 calories and under is a good ballpark.
If you are running very early in the morning, just after waking up, try a light snack as soon as you can, so you have some time to digest before lacing up your shoes. Half of a banana, a piece of bread with peanut butter, or even sweet potato are all great options. If none of those sound appealing, you can bring dried fruit, sport beans or chews with you, and try a bit after you’ve warmed up. Pro tip: Put your snack near your running clothes, so you can nosh and get dressed at the same time.
With a mid-day or lunch time run, breakfast might tide you over. However, if you go out for a run and you’re feeling tired and sluggish, you should experiment with fuel. About an hour before your run, you could try a few crackers and hummus, pretzels, and of course, a banana (half or whole) with nut butter.
If you’re running right after your 9-5, and it’s been five or more hours since lunch, an afternoon snack will probably help. Same rules as above apply. There is the temptation to eat a little more, since it’s approaching dinner time and you might be hungry, but too much (just like not enough) can impact your workout. Stomach cramps are usually a sign that you’ve had too much without enough time to digest.
What's your favorite pre-run fuel?