So the race day approaches! Hopefully training is going well, you're working hard (and taking recovery days!) You're thinking about getting your runs in, and wearing the right sneakers, but what about the right fuel for your body? Here are a few tips on eating right leading up to the race to help you feel and perform at your best.
Tip 1. What should I eat while training?
Some great foods to focus on while training to provide your body with vital carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins it needs to stay energized and strengthen your muscles for the race are: 100% whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and dairy. Ok, sounds easy, but what might that look like? A typical day for me might look like this:
Breakfast - Low fat Greek yogurt (great source of protein) with granola and blueberries + Cup O'Coffee!
Snack - Handful of walnuts and an apple and/or baby carrots + humus (a personal favorite)
Lunch - Two slices of 100% whole grain bread with almond butter and a glass of milk.
Pre-run snack - KIND Bar
Dinner - Salmon, brown rice, veggies
Dessert - I personally bust out the dark chocolate
Bam - Done - It's just one example of mixing healthy carbs, fats and lean proteins with fruits and vegetables to give a balanced day, but there are many many options!
Tip 2. What should I drink while training?
I know there are a lot of "sports drinks" out there on the market, but save yourself some money and calories. Really, good old-fashioned water is your friend! Drink up! I like to mix some fresh ginger and lemon into a pitcher of water, it's super healthy and tastes awesome and I find myself staying hydrated more easily. If you feel a little bit "crampy" post-run, I love coconut water. It has more potassium than a banana, and is yummy!
Tip 3. What should I eat the night before the race? A box of pasta?
I hear this often, "I need to carb load! Shouldn't I eat a ton of pasta before a race?" While there is science behind "carb loading," the amount of carbs 24-48 hours before a race only need to be a moderate amount. Sorry, this is not actually a legitimate excuse to send you running to the nearest pizza joint to scarf down an entire pizza yourself because "You're carb loading for the race!" The night before,don't eat anything you wouldn't normally try. Also, do not stuff your face! Getting sick to your stomach race morning, because you ate enough pasta for yourself and an entire football team, is NOT a fun time.
Tip 4. Race Day - Don't ever try anything on race day, you haven't tried in training.
What do you normally eat before a run? How does it make you feel? If it works for you, do that race day. Don't try some new fancy energy gel that you think will suddenly turn you into Kara Goucher, chances are, it will simply sending you running to the nearest bathroom. The morning of a 5k I get up two hours ahead of time, and have my normal breakfast of Greek yogurt and granola, with a side of coffee, and that's it, I'm ready to go! It works for me, and I know it works for me because I do it before every Saturday morning run. It's ok to try shotbloks or Gu's or whatever else you want to try, but make sure you try them THIS week, and see how you feel, don't wait till race day!
Now get out there and run!
— with Colleen Cahill.