One of the questions I seem to get a lot is “what to eat before running? ” And while I have found what works for me. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the best in the world eat before running or a race. So I took some of the top runners in the world and found interviews where they outlined their diets. So let’s take a look at what the pro runners eat before running.
What to eat before running? Let’s ask the pros!
Eliud Kipchoge – Oatmeal.
Marathon Distance Record Holder
Olympic Gold in the Marathon (multiple times)
Winner of almost every major road marathon
That’s right. According to the New York Times Oatmeal was the meal of choice before breaking the 2 hour marathon mark. But that’s not all he eats before running. At his running camp, runners are served things like rice, potatoes, ugali, porridge and beans. Along with tea and heavy sugar for those extra carbs needed during their runs. Another staple of the runners at the camp is white bread. Often eaten before and after long runs of 30k+.
Mary Keitany – Ugali.
Marathon Distance Women’s Record Holder
Former Half Marathon Women’s Record Holder
London Marathon Winner
A dish that you will also find as a staple in Kipchoge’s overall diet. Ugali is made with whole cornmeal and is packed with much of the same protein, fat and fiber content that’s in oats and oatmeal. The yellow cornmeal is also rich in vitamins and minerals, making it the perfect recipe for a runner to start the day with.
Courtney Dauwalter – Coffee and Creamer… and Lot’s of it.
Western States Women’s Winner
UTMB Women’s Winner (multiple times)
UTMB 8th Overall – Women’s course record and first woman to finish top 10 overall
On her way to becoming the greatest women trail runner in history. We have a great interview from theultimateprimate.com with Dauwalter about her diet before, during, and after her races. Before races she drinks a couple cups of coffee and creamer. And often will eat early in a race. During the race she likes Honey Stinger Waffles, Chews, and mashed potatoes. And her post race foods of choice are beer, pizza, nachos, and burritos. A woman after my own heart!
Jon Albon – Real Food #sponsored by Clif Bar
Sky Runner World Champion (multiple time)
OCR World Champion (multiple time)
Spartan Race World Champion (multiple time)
Trail World Champion 2019
UTMB OCC Winner 2021
The best runner, most runners have never heard of. I looked to try and find exactly what Albon was referencing when says “real food”. But he never really gives a direct answer in any interview that I could find. He does give a great interview to RunUltra.co.uk. In it he gives this answer to what Jon Albon says he eats before a race.
“I try to stick mainly to real food, and the goal is to eat less processed food but this can be difficult. Apart from that, I don’t have any special diet or supplements, no pills or powders. That’s why I love Clif bar as a sponsor. I see the bars as just being food that’s easier to transport and eat but keeps me going.” – Jon Albon
Jim Walmsley – Granola, yogurt, blueberries, and almond milk.
Western States Course Record Holder (multiple time winner)
Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim FKT Holder
JFK 50 Mile Winner (multiple time)
Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier
We are lucky to have a very recent interview in regards to what Jim Walmsley eats before a race. He says granola and yogurt are his go to and that he rarely deviates from that. He also goes into his overall diet. Mostly consisting of pizza and beer to get his caloric intake. This gives me hope!
Kilian Jornet – Energy Cake
Sky Running Champion 6x
UTMB Champion (multiple times)
Western States Champion
HardRock 100 Winner
Many more races and FKTs
One of the most decorated ultra runners in the history of running.The only thing I can find in reference to his “before race diet” is a bit old and from 2013. That said there is a very recent and well written piece that talks about his overall diet. You can read that by clicking here. Basically he eats almost a completely plant based high carb diet. Kilian mentions that he never really liked the taste of meat and never ate it much before either.