easy breakfast recipes for runners
We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all breakfast formula, but if you’re in need of some pre-event inspiration, the options below should provide some food for thought...
1. Porridge with banana
The go-to for many runners, porridge with banana provides the magic combination of slow-release carbohydrate and quick-release energy (you could also use another fruit, or stir in some honey for sweetness). Use water, oat or cashew milk if dairy upsets your stomach and, as with all the breakfasts on this list, make sure Event Day isn't the first time you try it out.
2. Poached eggs on toast
Because eggs are a protein source, they take longer for the body to digest, so make sure you eat them two to three hours before the event starts. The benefit of a high-protein breakfast is that it leaves you feeling well-fuelled, which you might find provides a slight psychological boost when the time comes to the event.
3. Toast with peanut butter and jam
Easy to digest and light on the stomach, this classic combination is a runner’s best friend. A pre-event meal, however, should be planned with fuel rather than diet in mind. For that reason, you may find white bread easier to digest than the high-fibre – albeit healthier – wholegrain alternative.
4. Fruit smoothie
Liquid nutrition is a good option if solid food leaves you feeling bloated or heavy, and the combination of low fibre and energy-providing carbohydrates in a fruit smoothie make it an ideal pre-event meal. You will find thousands of recipes online but a simple, vitamin-packed option is to blend one cup of yoghurt with one cup each of pineapple and mango.
5. Spinach omelette
The high iron content of spinach helps to transport oxygen around the body, which is particularly useful when tiring legs begin to accumulate lactic acid. Eggs, as previously mentioned, are a good choice if you prefer to feel well-fed pre-event, and they contain a number of runner-friendly vitamins such as B1 and B2, which facilitate the release of energy from protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Slow-release oats and fast-release sugars make a flapjack, or similar type of energy bar, an effective pre-event option if you don't like to eat too much – or wake up late! The bite-sized nature of a flapjack means you can get away with eating closer to the start of the event and if you opt for a bar with just two or three ingredients there’s not going to be anything in there to trouble your stomach.
7. Fruit salad with low-fat Greek yoghurt
Another inoffensive breakfast for Event Day morning, a fruit salad –as long as you pick low-fibre fruits such as bananas, melons and peaches – will provide a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to ward off injury, as well as a hit of quick-release energy to leave you raring to go. Low-fat yoghurt, meanwhile, contains a carb-protein ratio that prevents sugars rushing into the bloodstream too quickly, therefore ensuring you don’t crash and hit the dreaded ‘wall’.
8. Bagel with peanut butter
Bagels are low in fibre and high in carbohydrate, making them gentle on the stomach and loaded with easy-access energy. Adding peanut butter to the mix provides a dose of hunger-abating fats and protein, while its low GI (glycemic index) rating makes it easy to digest.
9. Granola with dairy-free milk
Granola is essentially toasted oats with added sugar, so you get a combination of slow- and quick-release energy to top up those endurance-enabling glycogen stores and instantly shake off your early-morning slumber. Dairy-free milk lacks the calcium and protein of the more traditional option, but it’s easier to digest in time for your 10K.
Hundreds of studies have vouched for the performance-enhancing qualities of caffeine, and a regular cup of coffee – drunk about 30 minutes before you run – can help you keep the pace for the duration of your 10K. To avoid any stomach irritation, it’s best to combine your coffee with one of the breakfasts listed above, and only take caffeine on board if you know it doesn’t give you unwanted side effects.