4 Race-Day Breakfasts of Elite Runners

Ashley Lauretta
by Ashley Lauretta
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4 Race-Day Breakfasts of Elite Runners

When it comes to race-day nutrition, we’ve all heard the old adage that you should never try something new the day of (or night before, for that matter). If you still haven’t found the perfect fuel to carry you to the start line and beyond, four professional runners share their go-to breakfasts (and how they experimented to finally find the right one for them).

The Runner: Frezer Legesse, professional miler. The 2016 Olympic trials semifinalist is coming off a new course record set at the the Third Annual Power Mile Road Race — the RRCA Louisiana State 1 Mile Championship — where he won in 04:17.70. When he isn’t training, he is the head cross country coach for Mt. Saint Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Race Day Breakfast: Usually three hours before the start of my warmup, I have have a bowl of oatmeal with banana and Greek yogurt.

On Experimenting: It took me a couple of races to really find out what worked well with my stomach and allowed me to get the best out of myself.

The Runner: Alison Désir  the founder of Harlem Run, a run crew connecting the running community in New York City — uses her running as a form of activism and helped organize #Run4AllWomen, where she ran 240 miles from New York City to Washington, D.C., and went on to raise more than $100K for Planned Parenthood.

Race Day Breakfast: I have peanut butter on gluten-free bread, a piece of avocado and coffee (black with two sugars).

On Experimenting: Other than my food allergy, my stomach is pretty easy! I find that many things work for me and it helps with pre-race jitters; I’m not so concerned with exactly what I eat, just that I eat enough.

The Runner: Rachel Schneider, professional middle-distance runner and nine-time All-American in track. In 2015 she took third at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships and fifth at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, both in the mile. 

Race Day Breakfast: My go-to race day breakfast is two eggs, oatmeal, coffee and water (usually with some electrolytes). I try to eat this about 4–5 hours before the race and then will eat a nutrition bar and drink some coffee about two hours before the race.

On Experimenting: It took me awhile to find something that worked well with my stomach. Through most of college I was eating pancakes and protein bars before races, but when I started learning more about nutrition and experimenting with foods, I eventually settled on eggs and oatmeal pre-race. Everyone is different, but I think focusing on finding simple foods that are easy on the stomach and provide good nutrition/energy for the race should be the goal.


The Runner: Amanda Brooks, marathoner and blogger. The Denver-transplant moved to Colorado to embrace her love of the outdoors and an active lifestyle. She is also the voice behind popular website Run To The Finish and has been featured in numerous national magazines.

Race Day Breakfast: I love a tortilla with almond butter and a banana. I can carry it to the start line for a little bit of fuel that isn’t too heavy.

On Experimenting: I always feel like it’s more about the meals in the days leading up to the race than just race morning. Finding my night-before meal took a few marathons; I learned to skip a heavy pasta dinner and instead listen to my body with a lighter meal.


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About the Author

Ashley Lauretta
Ashley Lauretta

Ashley is a journalist based in Austin, Texas. She is the assistant editor at LAVA and her work appears in The Atlantic, ELLE, GOOD Sports, espnW, VICE Sports, Health, Men’s Journal, Women’s Running and more. Find her on Twitter at @ashley_lauretta.


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