Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fueling for Morning Runs II and Running in the Snow

BREAKING NEWS.  I FINALLY braved the cold and snow. It was 10 degrees the other morning, and when I checked the weather, I thought I had accidentally switched my phone to Celsius mode. Ahhahahaha...no. F-degrees. F for Fahrenheit, F for Fail, F for Effen cold.

Proof, PROOF that there was snow. This was not the snow I ran in. My snow was everywhere and much colder.

I got up, got dressed, and went to go outside to the gym before work, and despite there being snow everywhere, it didnt feel toooo horrifically spirit-crushingly cold. So I decided to run in it. I'd never run actually on snow before, so that was an experience. I learned that if its dry and powdery, its actually got a fair bit of traction. That said, I am a massive klutz, and I didn't want to risk slipping, so I decided to head to the one place in the world - if there was ever one - that would likely have been cleared of snow by 8am in the morning: Central Park. Did a solid 8 miles (big loop + 1 mile to and from) and came home, immensely proud of my new-found bravery.

Total running mileage January 20-26: 38 miles. Mostly easy pace (around 8:00min/miles) with some fartleks and the occasional tempo mile here and there.

In other news, I got a few interesting responses to my questions re Fueling for Morning Runs - specifically hard workouts (I am fine to run on an empty stomach when its easy) - which Im going to copy and paste below:

My childhood friend Racer, said he runs fasted except the occasional long run: 
"[F]or anything under 2 hours I do all my morning runs with no fuel. When I did the handful of 30km+ runs I ate a banana before heading out and made sure there were plenty of drink points along my planned course. I don't know, but I've been told running on empty forces your body to be efficient? As for am sessions, I try to avoid doing speed work less than an hour after waking up. I'm told that when you sleep your core temp drops and it takes an hour or so to warm up in the morning. High intensity work before it warms up is risky. I figure tempo work is OK though - HMRP and slower isn't really high intensity.

As a side-note, when we were in kindergarten, our mothers made me and Racer matching tracksuits. Maybe we should do that again for a race back in Melbs, whaddaya reckon R?

Jake, who is far too great an athlete/runner to not be listened to, also said he runs unfueled:
"I never eat before running in the mornings. I'm usually up and out the door in 15-20 minutes. I find that eating some carbs before bed (ice cream!) is helpful :-)
I've gotten myself very used to running on an empty stomach.
Training "fasted" at times is definitely advantageous in marathon training - as Racer said, your body learns to be efficient and use fat as fuel.
Speed work in the morning can be tough. It helps to go a bit slower on your first couple reps (if doing an interval type workouts) or start the first mile or two (if doing a tempo run) a little slower b/c it does take some time to wake up and warm up."
Roserunner takes in some extra calories before her epic morning long runs before she heads to work [no one messes with this girl's three dinners or mileage plans]:
"I almost only run in the morning, and almost never eat beforehand. I just eat huge dinners. Not so much that I go to bed stuffed, but enough calories to fuel me up to 15 miles in the a.m. Which is to say my dinner+dessert is typically at least 1400-1800 calories."

And of course my co-star and fellow trial minion, Kristen who hates running on an empty stomach... so her approach is to have just a little oatmeal before heading out:
"I hate unfueled runs, even easy ones! Downing a very small amount of oatmeal (less than 1/4 cup) about 20 minutes before I start out makes a huge difference. By the time I am warmed up, I have just enough fuel, but no discomfort in my stomach."

Finally, I found some great advice from the website of the disarmingly honest, humble and all-round awesome US 5000m runner, Lauren Fleshman:
  1. Get up 2-3 hours before the run and eat something “real” like a couple eggs and toast, or some oatmeal with some nuts, or 1 cup of good quality yogurt with berries and cereal, or other meal options with some protein and fat. Protein takes time to digest, but if you have the time, eating a breakfast like this leaves you well fueled for a tough morning session or race. I’d keep the total calories under 600.
  2. Eat something easy to digest 30-90 minutes before, like a piece of toast with a little butter (or a small amount of peanut butter) and jam. This is my favorite option because I like to sleep in. Calorie estimate is between 150-350 depending on how much time you have.
  3. If you are a roll-out-of-bedder, suck down a Powergel or an all natural Liquid Gold 5-15 minutes before you run with a little water. I do this when I have a basic endurance run, but never before a tough workout.
So basically, Im going to sum it up all this fantastic advice in a really generalized and altogether pretty unhelpful way. Everyone is different. I'm pretty sure we all just need to figure out what works for us through trial and error. I'm happy to know that running fasted is not uncommon, and I'll definitely keep doing that while it works. If I have a particularly epic tempo or key interval workout planned, I might keep it for the evening so I have something in the system.


  1. Tried out the advice of Racer/Jake/Roserunner. Ate bagel late last night and ran first thing in the morning without eating and felt fueled. ~K

  2. As long as we're going down memory lane I was out at James M's parents' place and Mrs M was going through old photos and lo and behold there were a bunch of us at James' 2nd birthday - the Robin Hood themed dress up!

    You should probably avoid wearing the same outfit as me. I like to go out too hard and blow up so if you're wearing something different you can run past my shuffling carcass and pretend you don't know me :-)