A Runner’s Best Choice for Race Day Breakfast


As well as good training and strengthening exercises (and double-knotting your trainers), nutrition is key when it comes to distance running.

You’ll need to eat a nourishing breakfast on race day morning. It’s important to make sure you’re fuelled up before the event, whether it’s a 10k, half marathon, full-on marathon or the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest obstacle race.

Why Is Eating Breakfast on Race Day So Important? 

When you wake up after a night’s sleep, your body is in a fasted state, so you’ll need to eat some decent carbohydrates, which ultimately enhance you running performance. Blood sugar levels are at their lowest first thing in the morning because you haven’t eaten for at least six to seven hours. In fact, levels can drop too low and extremely quickly with exercise. The result? Low energy and a poor-quality run.

You may experience dizziness, confusion, lethargy and feel irritated or cranky. So, make sure you don’t skip one of the most important meals of the day. A pre-race breakfast will help keep blood sugar levels within their normal range, boost high-performance runs, as well as aid in post-run muscle recovery.


Timing is key when it comes to eating breakfast before a race. The best time for breakfast is around four hours before the race, as it’s early enough to digest and store a large number of calories, yet late enough that this energy won’t be used up when race time rolls around.

Eating two to four hours before you run is best so that it has happily settled in your stomach and is not likely to cause any gastrointestinal discomfort.

With most races beginning first thing in the morning, and what with sleep being so important, it’s not so easy to eat a full breakfast four hours before the horn sounds. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly possible to eat around two hours before. Granted, you won’t be able to eat as much this near to race time, but you can still eat plenty.

What Should I Eat on Race Day Morning?

So, what does a race day breakfast consist of if you’re running in a half marathon? What’s best to eat on the morning of a marathon? What you eat before the race is really important. Foods like toast, porridge, fruit, cereal and juice contain lots of carbs, but don’t try anything new on race day. As mentioned above, plan to have your breakfast two to four hours before the race starts and stay hydrated by drinking little and often.

Breakfast on Race Day Ideas

If you’re competing in a marathon or 10k obstacle, the below recipes contain all the nutrients and calories you’ll need to rock the race. Whether it’s something simple or a full meal you prepare beforehand, check out these ideas based on what other runners and nutrition-minded athletes are consuming. The ideal pre-race meal should contain a small amount of fat and protein and a lot of carbohydrate.

At the 5k distance, the pre-race breakfast doesn’t place as much of a vital role like it does in distance races. That said, it’s still important. If you’re still not sure of what to eat before a long-distance run or obstacle race, take a look at our dedicated Nutrition section.


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