It’s almost here – that race you’ve been training for all year. All the miles you logged are about to pay off. The only question left is what to eat leading up to race day! Although all runners have personal preferences – and sometimes superstitions – there are three key things to keep in mind.
1. Load up on carbs TWO nights before the race – not the night before.
You’ve probably heard of carb loading for a big race, a truly essential habit that provides plenty of glycogen to get the most out of your muscles over a long-distance. However, the key for carb loading is timing. Loading up with a big dinner the night before a race can be risky, as the pre-race jitters can keep you tossing and turning at night, which has a detrimental effect on digestion. Eating a carb-rich dinner, such as pasta or even a stack of pancakes two nights before the big race will keep you fueled and not leave you restless.
2. Stick to what you’re used to eating
It’s never a good idea to try out new food the morning of a race, even if it seems like the perfect fuel. Make sure to eat the same breakfasts foods you’ve had prior to your weekly long run or workouts. Pre-race meals should be light, with easily digestible carbs and a bit of protein. My go-to pre-race breakfast was always a bagel topped with peanut butter and a small bowl of oatmeal. Olympic Triathlete Sarah Haskins go-to breakfast is two slices of toast, topped with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, ½ a banana, and drizzled with honey. However, I hear she's planning to swap her toast for Start Right Waffles while training for her next big race! The key is keep it simple, and keep it familiar!
3. Eat breakfast 2-3 hours before your race
I know, I know. Eating 2-3 hours before a race makes for an extremely early morning, but it pays off. In addition to getting a kick-start on digestion, rising early gives you a chance to shake out the legs, drink enough water, and awaken your body for the race.
Putting the right fuel in the tank at the right time will definitely pay off in the long run...get it? Good luck, and as my coach always told me: "Run fast, hurry back!"