Fueling for Long Runs

It’s no secret that running long distances means you can eat more. I mean, according to my Garmin, I’m burning about 2,400 calories on a 20-mile run.

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While I started running while I was losing weight, I didn’t start running to lose weight, if that makes any sense. I started running because it seemed like a fitness activity that I’d be able to stick with and that I could do outside. So I don’t run because I can burn an insane amount of calories–it’s just a fringe benefit.

In order to be able to run long distances and not feel like I’m going to die, I need to eat properly–especially the day before. I don’t want to have to stop an otherwise awesome run to find a bathroom immediately. I’ve had to do this way too many times, and I’d prefer to not make a habit of it.

So, I’ve found what works for me the day before I have a long run on my schedule. (And tomorrow I have 15 on the schedule.)


Bananas and sunflower butter on a bagel thin or whole wheat English muffin. Always. Oatmeal is too fibrous the day before a long run for me.


A whole wheat wrap with chicken, sundried tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella and honey mustard. With chips on the side. I accidentally discovered last year that having chips the day before a long run helps me because of all of the salt, so I have made a point to incorporate chips into my diet the day before a long run. You know, just to be safe.


For dinner, like any other good runner, I make sure to have lots and lots of pasta.


I have a feeling y’all will be divided on this one.

So, last year, I wouldn’t drink at all the night before a long run. It wasn’t worth the possibility of being even hungover in the slightest. (Although? Let’s be real. I can certainly handle 2-3 beers without being hungover.)

Then, the night before my first 15-miler, I was so nervous that I decided to order a glass of wine with dinner. I had said one glass of wine and was totally fine. For the rest of that training cycle, I’d occasionally have a drink the night before a long run, but I tried not to make a habit out of it.

This year, I’ve ended up having 1-2 beers before every long run, and–and I swear I’m not just saying this to justify my drinking before a long run–I think it helps! I’ve had some amazing long runs this year.


What are your day-before-long-run food rituals? And team booze before long run or team oh hell no?

22 comments on “Fueling for Long Runs

  1. Melissa

    I was reading one of the Runner’s World training guides, and I remember that runners rated beer as their third favorite carb. It out ranked bagels! Can you believe that??

    1. Theodora Post author

      Yes 🙂 What were 1 and 2? I would imagine pasta and bread?

      Also, I would love to be interviewed about my favorite carb.

      1. Melissa

        No! Not bread.
        Pasta – 44%
        Cereal – 17%
        Beer – 16%
        Bagels – 11%
        Rice – 9%
        Energy Bars – 3%
        (Based on 4,034 respondents of a Runnersworld.com poll)

        Cereal over bagels? That’s ludicrous!

  2. Caitlin

    I’m not a runner, but if I have a fitness class on the agenda for the next morning I cannot drink more than one glass of anything. One glass of wine is usually my stopping point or I TOTALLY feel it!

  3. Rosalba

    Team Booze FTW!

    Other than that, I dont really notice a difference with most foods… Maybe I haven’t had runs long enough for my fuel to make a huge difference? Or maybe i just have a stomach of steel! 😛

  4. Gia

    You know where I stand on this one. I am team booze all the way … in the form of pumpkin beer. 1 beer only. And then I spend the majority of my run thinking about having a few more when I’m done!

  5. Liz

    Lately I’ve been eating wood fired pizza the night before my long runs, too much food and probably way too late. Tonight I’m going light to see if that changes anything for me. 14 on the sched for tomorrow, then off to see Cirque at Radio City and dinner TBD (Bond 45 maybe?).

  6. Kathy @ newlywedindc

    I’ll have a beer or two before a long run, with lots of water too. The night before a race a few sips of beer can take the edge off-but no more!

  7. Lee

    As much as I like alcohol, I’m definitely on team hell no. Even if I have one drink, I can feel it in my run the next day. If I’m doing a short run (like less than 4 miles), it’s not a problem, but a long run I definitely can’t do.

  8. Tropical Eats

    dang the runner’s world survey results are pretty interesting!

    i actually hateeee pasta.. it just doesnt do it for me for some reason. unless it’s mac n cheese!

    the night before im all about dry cereal by the handful or a sandwich.

  9. Kristine @ Running on Hungry

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while but I have no idea why I’ve never actually commented! I’m a BIG fan of a drink or two the night before a run (usually because it’s a weekend). I ran my 1/2 Marathon PR the morning after having a cocktail (Moscow Mule) AND a beer. I think as long as you get enough sleep and drink enough water you’re fine. And beer = carbs = golden! 🙂

    I have 17 miles on the schedule tomorrow and I definitely had 2 beers with dinner… I’ll let you know how it goes! Good luck with yours! You’ll kill it!

  10. Amanda

    The night before my first half marathon, I went out to dinner with my husbands family at a steakhouse. I ended up getting a tuna steak, some side that I’m pretty sure I ate all of, and probably 2-3 beers (michelob ultra, if that even counts) – at any rate, i was still i bed by 10 and ran a 2:00 half, and felt GREAT! i say if you’re not getting toasted and you stay hydrated its just another treat. happy running!

  11. maria @ Chasing the Now

    I don’t drink, but if having a beer the night before a long run works for your body, then that’s awesome! 🙂

    I don’t have too be too careful about what I eat the day before, except for the night before–try to always have pasta or something.

  12. Corrie Anne

    I’ve never been planned out enough to think what I’m going to eat the day before a long run. I’m not a beer fan, but super cute pic. I like that shirt/dress/whatever it is! Cute!


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