Whether you’re planning to run a 5k or tackle your first marathon, there are a few important things you should be aware of when it comes to your nutrition-specifically your race day diet.
Proper nutrition can help to keep you fueled throughout your race and may save you from hitting a wall. Following these nutrition tips can better ensure your success on the race course and keep you feeling good all day.
Consume Enough Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates serve as an energy source and can keep your glycogen levels higher. Many runners choose to “carb load” the night before a race by consuming large amounts of pasta in order to give themselves the increased energy levels they need.
You can also eat bread, cereal, and other grains to give yourself a sufficient amount of carbohydrates. Check out other carbohydrate options like potato buns. Be sure to pair your carbs with protein.
Eat Protein-Rich Foods
Protein serves as the building block for muscles, and can greatly improve your strength levels during running. Most experts advise runners to get around 20 percent of their daily calories from protein sources.
Foods high in protein include meats, eggs, beans, and nuts. You can also load up on this nutrient by consuming a protein shake. Be sure to build up all your meals around a protein source before race day.
Avoid Spicy Foods
In the days leading up to your big race, you should generally try to avoid spicy foods. They can upset your stomach and give you a bad case of indigestion that will hurt your efforts while you run.
Plus, spicy foods can give you a case of the dreaded “runner’s trots”, which might cause you to spend more time in the portable bathroom than on the actual race course.
Drink Plenty of Water
Not only does water quench your thirst, it also prevents other potentially serious health risks. Water plays an important role in keeping your joints lubricated and your body temperature regulated. It is particularly important to make sure you drink enough water before your race, and even during your race in order to avoid dehydration.
Most experts recommend you drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before your race, and up to eight ounces 30 minutes prior to the start time. I like collapsible water bottles because they compact down nicely for storage pre-race (and are easy to refill post-race).
You should also hydrate regularly while running in a longer race like a 10k or marathon.
Getting proper nutrition can help you stay in better shape and get you more prepared for your race.
Whether you’re going for a personal best time, or hoping to just finish, consuming the right foods will make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. To get your carbs in bulk, check out deals at Klosterman Baking Company. Brooke is available via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.