Runners: Proper Nutrition for Your Race
I often get asked the question, “What do I eat before I run, or what do I eat the night before a race?” Well look no further! The following are some general tips on what to eat the night before a race and the morning of.
- Drink plenty of water the day before and night of the race!
- Skip the sodas and alcohol the night before.
- Drink at least 2 cups of water or Gatorade the morning of and another 1-2 cups within an hour before the race starts.
- Drink a half cup of water at each aid station and 1-2 cups after the race. Even swishing Gatorade in your mouth has proven to have benefits during a race if swallowing Gatorade upsets your stomach.
- If hot or humid, increase the water intake before and during the race.
- Limit yourself to one caffeinated drink the morning of the race if using to boost performance.
- For half marathoners, I recommend eating/drinking 30-45 grams of fast- acting carbohydrates each hour.
- This could be drinking ½- 1 cup Gatorade at each aid station.
- You can also use a sports Gel, sports jelly beans, Cliff blocks, etc. I advise using these 2 times for a half marathon, once at ~5-6 miles and another at ~9-10 miles. Note: If taking a gel packet or eating carbohydrates, drink WATER with these. Save Gatorade for the aid stations where you will not be consuming food.
The Night Before
- You do not need to eat any more than usual the night before a 5K. For a half marathon, 1-2 nights beforehand the race, make sure you have adequate amounts of carbohydrates for your meals (Pasta, baked potato, rice, etc).
- Keep your diet low in fat (easy on butter, fattening meats, sauces, dressings, fries, etc).
- Have at least 1 form of carbohydrates (a baked potato, rice, pasta, bread) with some lean protein and a vegetable.
- Drink 2 cups of water race morning.
- Eat a light breakfast (nothing new!). A banana, a whole or half Cliff bar works great.
- Half marathoners, I advise waking up a few hours before the start of your race to eat a more substantial breakfast.
- Ex:Small banana, Cliff bar and 1 cup Gatorade or a bagel with jelly and peanut butter with a cup of Gatorade.
- Keep it low in fiber and fat. NO FIBER or 100% WHOLE GRAIN!
- Remember to leave in time to allow for parking and lines in at the bathroom before the race.
- First of all, congratulations, enjoy yourself!
- Typically the best post workout snack is a carbohydrate and protein.
- A light yogurt, a protein shake, whole grain sandwich, or a chocolate milk are all great options.
- Best if in liquid form and taken within a 45 minute window of exercise.
By Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Registered Dietitian/Health Coach, Franciscan WELLCARE