One of the nice things about being a runner is that I'm often asked for advice, tips and so on from friends, colleagues and occasionally through my blog. The latest question is about running before breakfast i.e. running on an empty stomach.
Yes, it's fine to do this and I'm speaking from my own experience only here. For new runners it makes sense to try by "trial and error" to find what's right for you as an individual. Personally, I like to run without much in my stomach.
In the summer I like running early in the morning, before breakfast for a number of reasons and I have never had any problems in terms of fuelling myself. I do, however, normally have a mug of tea before I set off but this is about 10 - 15 minutes before I head out.
Normally my pre-breakfast runs in the summer are between 60 and 90 minutes (i.e. 6 to 10 miles). It's never hot so I have never needed to take any water with me.
If I run a little later in the morning, say 10 or 11am, well it makes sense to have a smallish breakfast at 8am. That gives enough time for me to digest the food. For these breakfasts I would normally have a little muesli, with my usual added mixture of ground flaxseeds, a little oat bran and a piece of fruit. This is washed down with a small glass of smoothie and a coffee and our usual time reading of a passage from the Bible.
Normally I think we will have sufficient fuel stored in our bodies to go running before breakfast. When we run initially, we use oxygen in our muscles and carbohydrates to fuel us. As runs become longer we start to draw on fat reserves in our bodies. Although there isn't a tap which suddenly gets turned on, we need to be running for a while before much fat is used. When we start burning much fat depends on the individual and a number of other factors i.e. weight, body composition, fitness levels and so on.
But you can take some fuel, if you want
For longer runs or races i.e. marathons, half marathons, energy gels are a good idea for on-the-go fuel. Click here for some examples of these which are worth trying - important not to take these for the first time on race day, in case they don't agree with you.
Energy gels are easily carried and use, also quick to digest.
If you are diabetic, or have some other medical condition, only you will know the right approach here. As I said, all I can do is relay my own experience.
I have touched on this subject once or twice before, you might find this helps:
When is the best time to run?