I’m often asked about how I eat leading up to a race. After two years of running I have found a system that works for me. It’s important to point out that what works for me isn’t going to work for everyone out there. Our bodies are all different and it’s important to listen to yours and do what’s best for you.
To answer the food question, I thought I’d take tonight to share my race prep routine as I’m gearing up for the Mount Dora Half Marathon tomorrow morning.
It’s also worth noting that all of this obviously changes for races away from home. My next few are all local but when I head out to California for Star Wars I’ll be sure to share how things change when I’m not able to cook for myself.
A common misconception is that, as a runner, I’m going to shove a box of pasta down my throat the night before a race. While, I did have spaghetti for dinner I didn’t go insane. Overloading on carbs before a race can actual do more harm than good, especially to your digestive system.
The key is eating in moderate quantities. Basically my pre-race game plan is to eat when hungry and stop when I feel full.
The morning is simple with some eggs and a whole-wheat English muffin. This is a slight change from my normal morning meal as I’m adding in the muffin and the extra calories.
Lunch today was a bit of a cheat as I had a sandwich from Starbucks. The goal was to add more calories, carbs, and protein to keep me fueled.
My water bottle becomes my best friend during the day though I’m sure to keep to my regular routine with Starbucks. I keep my hydration normal. Again, some people feel you must become one with the water but too much makes you feel bloated and can actually dilute your electrolytes and this can lead to cramping which isn’t fun for anyone.
Morning of the race I’ll have a full glass of water when I wake up and will be sure to bring a full water bottle with me for the drive. I grab a cup at every race water stop and will grab gatorade at every other depending on how I’m feeling. But that’s another post.
I snack throughout the day, keeping nuts with me (I love cocoa roasted almonds) for when I feel hungry.
My pre-race dinner when I’m able to cook for myself is pretty much always the same. I’ll have a decent sized salad along with some spaghetti made with grilled chicken and cherry tomatoes. This has been my go-to dinner for the past year and I love it.
It’s important to follow the cardinal rule of running which is simply “nothing new on race day.”
I keep that in mind the day before the race as well.
The night before a race isn’t the time to be trying Indian food for the first time. Stick with what you know rather than risking getting sick or dehydrated.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and race day is no exception. I’m notorious for feeling too nervous to eat prior to a race but it’s important to power through that feeling. Your breakfast is going to keep your blood sugar steady and help you power through your run. There’s nowhere on the course to make up for what you skipped out on so don’t.
My pre-race breakfast is simple with a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter. Nothing crazy. Just that. I’ll bring a banana along and eat it on the way to the race.
Again. This is what works best for me and may not for you. Listen to your body.
Through it all have fun!
Now I’m off to bed to rest up for my race!