To make sure your body is properly fueled to run a race, you'll want to start prepping your body a week before. Here's everything you need to know about what to eat the week before, the night before and the morning of your race.
Diet tips for race day
Nutrient timing is crucial on race day. Throughout your training and for each specific training run, it's important to test out meals, supplements and timing to find what works best for your body. Become familiar with your nutrition routine long before competition day to eliminate stress.
One week before the race
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The week before the race, the central focus is to hydrate and fuel for competition day.
Drink extra water and fluids during the week leading up to race day. Aim for 1 ounce per pound of body weight every day. Avoid alcohol in excess (more than one drink per occasion for women) to prevent dehydration. If you're experiencing cramping, it may be necessary to salt your food and eat to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Sports drinks provide these nutrients, but the body metabolizes them from food more efficiently. This list can help you choose the right foods:
Make sure your meals are balanced with carbohydrates, protein and fat. The day before the race, it is extremely important to include high carbohydrates in all meals to raise glycogen levels (carbohydrates stored in the muscle). If your event is longer than 90 minutes, it's a good idea to increase carbohydrate intake consistently three to five days prior to competition.
The day before your race
Lunch and dinner
The day of your race
Consider your current habits. Are you the runner who gets up early to fuel with breakfast or do you grab something to eat in the car as you dash out the door to meet your running group? Or are you the runner who likes to run on empty?
There's a solution for every type of runner.
For those who like a solid breakfast: Try eating two hours prior to the race. Try a 300- to 500-calorie meal with 60 to 120 grams of carbohydrates and 16 to 20 ounces of fluid. Avoid high-fat or fiber to prevent gastrointestinal (GI) issues. For many people, their normal breakfast can serve as the perfect pre-race meal. Good options:
If you like to eat something on the way to the run: Try eating one hour prior to the race. Try a 200- to 250-calorie snack with 60 grams of carbohydrates and 10 ounces of fluid. If you have fewer than 60 minutes, stick with something liquid. Try one of these:
If you normally run on empty: Try fueling the night before. Aim to get in a good amount of carbohydrates and moderate protein with a before-bed snack to prevent low blood sugar the next morning. By eating a meal or snack before bed the night before, a small snack prior to the race can help "top off the tank." Try a 100-calorie snack the morning of the race with 10 ounces of fluid, such as:
After a successful race, make sure you start the recovery process immediately! Recover with 10 to 20 grams of protein and 20 to 60 grams of carbohydrates within 30 to 45 minutes after your race. Many times, the race will have sponsors that provide food on site. Grab a banana, yogurt or sports drink to start the recovery process immediately. This is will help hydrate, reduce inflammation and prevent extreme soreness.
More running tips
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