In an ideal world, runners would watch what they ate all the time. Just like a car, we need adequate fuel. And the type of fuel we get determines how are bodies will run. If you put the crappy gas in a car, it won’t drive as well. If a runner eats straight junk, they won’t run as well.
What we eat (and drink) in the days leading up to our race can either help or hinder our performance. Keep in mind– as I’ve said oh so many times before, different things work for different people! And I am by no means an expert in nutrition. But, these are some of the basic fueling tips that I’ve picked up through my running experiences:
Eat your carbs
No, I don’t mean engulf an entire family sized plate of pasta from Buca Di Beppo. What I do mean is to increase your carb intake to about 60-65% of your calories in the days before. As always, make sure that you are doing this in a healthy way. Aka avoid refined carbs! Those will do no good for you on race day. Hint: yams are a wonderful (and healthy) form of carbs.
The problem with carbs is that runners think they need to eat tons. Like an entire box of pasta at each meal. NO NO NO! This could turn out to be a calorie disaster. You want to make sure that you don’t increase your calorie intake too much during your taper, or you’ll gain some weight. Eat according to your activity, but try and make more of these calories healthy carbs (again, 60-65%. MyFitnessPal makes it easy to keep track of those macros).
It is so important to begin hydrating during the week before a race. A gallon a day should do the trick!
It might be a good idea to drink some additional electrolytes, especially if your race is going to be warm! I would, however,advise against the Gatorade sugar bomb. I recommend the Gu Brew electrolyte tablets (peach tea flavor in specific 🙂 )
Some people swear by cutting back on vegetables and whole grains a couple of days prior to the race. Although these options are healthy, they cause stomach issues in some racers. If this is the case, switch to white carbs about 48 hours out. Switch back the second the race is over, though!! Whatever you do, don’t fall back into the evil trap of constantly buying white bread.
Most importantly, stick to what you know!
Never had creamy chicken pot pie the night before a long run? Probably not the best idea to try it out the night before a race. The biggest piece of advice is to NEVER try anything new in the days leading up to the race! Stick to what you know and what works best for you.
And then….Rock that race!!!
- Any tips for race week nutrition?
- Favorite food to carb load on?
- Do you track your macros?