Monday, November 4, 2013

Pre-Race Nutrition Tips

Happy Monday, y'all! Let's get race week started right with a few pre-race diet tips and pitfalls.

ONE. Pasta the night before is great...just not an entire box of it.
Runners need to have a good store of glycogen to carry them comfortably through a race. But "carbo loading" to excess the night before will likely send you running for the porta-potty and not towards the finish line. Eat moderate amounts of carbs for a few days before the race such as organic granola or oatmeal for breakfast, whole grain bread or brown rice for lunch, and potatoes or whole grain pasta for dinner. Whole grain carbs have lower glycemic values which means they digest more slowly leading to greater energy payoffs and lower rates of fat storage.

TWO. Get hydrated! But don't chug a gallon of water the morning of the race.
Every athlete knows that hydration is key to optimal performance. However, so are electrolytes which are minerals that are responsible for optimal muscle contraction. Too much water will dilute electrolyte levels leaving you crampy and weak. Hydrate normally in the days before the race and even throw in a sports drinks or two to amp up electrolyte levels. The morning, drink a couple glasses of water several hours before the race and then another cup or two right before the gun.

THREE. Use the whole week leading up to the race to enhance your carbohydrate stores.
Start adding in more calories in the days leading up to the race by slightly increasing protein and carbohydrate intake. Try adding an additional serving of fruits and starchy vegetables each day. If your normal diet consists of burgers and greasy pizza, however, be careful about spiking your fiber intake too dramatically. This can have serious negative consequences for you on race day. The key is to not adopt a new diet right before a race but to tweak your existing diet to optimize carbohydrate, electrolyte, and protein levels.

Sample Meal Plan. Adapted from Women's Running.
Breakfast 24 hours pre-race
Steel cut oats with peanut butter and 1/2 banana

Lunch 20 hours pre-race
Chicken burrito with guacamole, black beans, and brown rice

Snack 16 hours pre-race
Trail Mix

Dinner 12 hours pre-race
Chicken and vegetable stir-fry
Whole Grain pasta
Water and low-calorie sports drink

Snack 10 hours pre-race
Vanilla pudding with sliced banana

Breakfast  2 hours pre-race
Whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter and jelly
8 oz. water and 8 oz. low-calorie sports drink

Snack 1 hour pre-race
8 oz water or low-calorie sports drink

This meal plan is adapted specifically for half-marathon nutrition. Check out Women's Running for more meal plans tailored to other distances! Keep running, loves!



  1. These are such great tips! Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Lauren! I'm glad you enjoyed the post!


  2. I love it when nutrition guidelines reflect how I naturally like to eat. It makes me feel on top of my game. ^_^


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