Ask the Coach: Fueling for early-morning runs

Q. I love running early in the morning and try to run four to five miles, at least three times per week. I run to stay in shape but also because I want to lose 10 lbs. I don't like to eat before my runs; however, I find myself feeling a little light-headed and sometimes even slow down towards the end of my runs.

Do you recommend eating something before a run? If so, are there certain foods that are better than others? I just don't want my pre-run snacks to defeat the purpose of my runs.

A. I'm not sure if you are feeling light-headed because you are dehydrated, low on glycogen or a bit of each.

If you're getting out of bed and running shortly thereafter, try drinking eight to 16 ounces of a sports drink before your run. The calories will run between 50 and 100, depending on the concentration of your drink. This low number of calories won't blow your weight-loss plan, especially if you can keep a better pace near the end of your run.

If you get out of bed and do tasks for two or three hours before going for your run, try eating a small snack shortly after getting out of bed. A slice of toast with almond butter and fruit jam or an energy bar with a bit of protein and fat is a good place to start.

You may need to experiment with different foods and portions to determine what works best for you. This testing also helps you figure out which fuel works best for the morning of a race, should you decide to enter a run for fun or to check your speed.

Do you have a specific training or sport related question? Have world-renowned coach Gale Bernhardt answer it! Send your questions to

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic Coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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