How long should I wait after eating before running? - Women's Running

How long should I wait after eating before running?

Author: Laura Hilton

Read Time:   |  March 15, 2022

Nutritionist Laura Hilton shares her expert advice on how long we should be waiting after eating before we go for a run

As with so many things relating to running, how long we should wait after eating to run is largely individual. Some runners find they perform and feel better when they eat soon before their runs. Others prefer a gap of an hour or two before they run. Some even feel better when they run before eating at all in the day, which is called fasted training. It’s about striking the right balance between feeling well-fuelled and too full.

There is good and bad news about this. The bad news is that discovering which best suits you does not come down to science. The good news is that it comes down to trial and error.

We’ve all heard that old adage of “nothing new on race day”. It’s as true about your approach to pre-race nutrition as it is to the trainers you tackle your event in. It’s in training that you can play around with your timing of eating.

Note whether short gaps, gaps of a few or even several hours work best for you. If you find that the timing you’re trying out doesn’t work for you on a training run, you’ve got options! The worst that can happen is that you need to dive in a bush to relieve yourself, or have to walk because you’re out of energy. It can be quite a different matter during an event, not to mention disappointing if you can’t perform at your best.

It’s worth noting that IBS sufferers are likely to fare better if they leave a reasonable amount of time between eating and running. This is because the physical bouncing and jolting of running can cause gastric distress (the fancy name for runner’s trots). This is more likely to occur in those who have more sensitive digestive systems. But again, this is something to play around with in training.

If it becomes apparent that you feel better when you leave a fairly long gap between eating and running, but are struggling for energy, you could utilise the powers of caffeine. Many runners find that a dose of caffeine in the hour or so leading up a run gives them a boost. If you decide to try this though, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is how to consume your caffeine. Of course, you can eating or drink something containing caffeine. However, I find that you can be far more accurate with dosage using caffeine tablets and powders. And don’t forget that caffeine can have an effect on bowel movements!

Did you know that caffeine could improve your running performance? Read this: Could coffee improve my PB?

So although there is no exact science to know how long to wait after eating to run, it is possible to find out what suits you best. Play around with the timing of your runs and meals during your training schedule.

Written by

Laura Hilton

Laura Hilton

Nutritionist, personal trainer and mum of three Laura loves running in the countryside with her dog and has taken on numerous marathons

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