Hungry while running? Good.

If you feel hungry during a training run or race, don’t fret.

Be sure to know there is a difference between hunger and low fuel while training.

They are not one and the same.

Your body stores thousands of calories of carbohydrate and many more thousand calories of onboard fat, all of which is readily available while on the move. These sources have very little to do with your hunger level.

I would go as far as to suggest hunger to be a good thing during a race. It means your chances for GI distress are possibly lower and that you do not have undigested foot bouncing around inside your stomach.

Plus, if you’re hungry, it’s very easy to fix. Grab something from an aid station. However, if you’re experiencing GI issues from food you’ve eaten, there’s not much you can do.

For my own AM runs and races, I prefer to go into them with very little to zero food in my system, a cup of oatmeal or a couple bananas is generally enough.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on hunger and going into a race/run with little or no breakfast!


Kyle is a running coach who works with people all over the world to help them run more consistently & be resilient to injury.

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jane - February 4, 2016

I’ve recently started feeling very hungry when I run. I never eat anything before my runs (which are usually about an hour), and it has never bothered me before, But now throughout the run I feel hunger pangs and actually feel weak. And, after my runs, having a whey protein shake, and oatmeal for breakfast doesn’t seem to really fill up the tank–have to usually add boiled eggs and even a sweet potato, which is a lot of food! Not sure what’s going on–any thoughts?

    Kyle - February 4, 2016

    Who knows why things something “mysteriously” change with our bodies, ha! Unless trying to lose weight, I usually hesitate to suggest in general being hungry. It’s typically a good sign from your body that you need calories, nutrition, etc. Maybe try eating a bit before the run, such as a piece of fruit?

      jane - February 4, 2016

      I’ve tried in the past to eat something before I run, even on my long runs (which are usually at 5am!) but it makes me feel very uncomfortable and bloated. I have lost quite a bit of weight since I started running regularly last year but certainly not by starving myself–I eat healthy and enough. But maybe because I haven’t upped my calories even as I am progressively running more, my body is getting depleted–who knows..will have to figure out something before I pass out on a run! 🙂
      Thanks for your reply Kyle.

John - April 20, 2015

Running on an empty stomach seems to put the body into fat burning mode easier. Still I’ve read that if fat burning is the goal then a lower intensity, longer run is going to burn more v.s. high intensity fast runs.

I am one of those weird people that can eat pretty much anything and crank out a 2-3 hour long run. Sometimes the first thirty minutes to an hour is a bit uncomfortable, but nothing show-stopping. I think it’s a constitution thing.

Joanna - October 10, 2014

I have coffee before morning runs and sometimes a banana. I’ve run in the evenings after having dinner. Even waiting two hours to run TWO MILES I felt awful. Fasted runs are way better for me.

Joshua - January 10, 2014

Yep- I generally do fasted runs every morning unless it’s a workout or a long run? If it’s an EZ run or shorter workout, I’ve found that I don’t need food. If it’s a longer workout or a long run, then a cup of coffee with milk and a banana or small bowl of oatmeal is more than enough. Why feel bloated at the beginning of a run? Also, if I’m out for more than two hours, I’ll bring some Tailwind to sip on for calories after a half hour.

Great post as usual, Kyle!

    Kyle - January 13, 2014

    Thanks Joshua! I did a 25 minute tempo run (1 hour total running) at 1pm a few days ago with nothing but coffee, no problemo 🙂

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