Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Running on Empty

I've written a blog about running on empty before, but this one is a little less deep.  Today the empty on my mind is more physical and less emotional.  I'm talking about running on an empty stomach.  Do you do this?
Because the majority of my runs are made in the wee morning hours while it's still dark as night outside, taking the time to fuel properly just doesn't fit into my schedule.  My runs are usually spent racing the clock trying to get as many miles in before I need to be back getting ready work.  If only my 9:00 - 5:00 allowed me to show up sweaty and in my new magic shoes.  Maybe then I would have more time to adequately prepare my body for runs.

Here is the thing though:  I'm terrible at running on empty.  I am significantly slower and fatigue quicker on an empty stomach.  Such slow, exhausting, and empty runs leave me feeling very frustrated.  I try to stick to a running schedule that allows me to improve (in distance and pace) as a runner, but these runs feel counterproductive.  Does this happen to you?
I know plenty of runners who say they don't like to fuel before a run (hey, let's be honest, we all have stomach issues associated with running), but does that mean they would run worse if they fueled?  I can't help but think they would run better.  I know I do.  Also, I know there are studies out there regarding the additional fat burn that can be gained by exercising on an empty stomach (and even a rare few that talk about running on empty), but for one, I am not running to burn fat or lose weight, and second, the majority of  studies regarding increased fat loss on an empty stomach refer to moderate exercise (brisk walking, light elliptical, etc.), my morning runs are more strenuous (at least to me) than that, and I know it's not good for me physically or mentally to be running on empty, but I haven't found a good alternative.  I need something very quick and easily digestible that I can eat during warm-up and active stretching, but that also provides enough fuel for an hour or so of running.
What do you eat before you run early morning? 
Nor can you build strength or pace.  At least, I can't.

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