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Healthy Living: Race Day Fuel

In a couple of weeks I’m running my second half marathon, and let me tell you, I’m starting to get rather nervous. Over the past few years I have run several 5Ks and a couple of 10Ks, so I’ve gotten my pre-race rituals down to an art.

The day before the race I like to take it easy. For dinner, I have a pasta dish and avoid anything greasy or creamy. Before going to bed I always lay out my race-day outfit and paint my toenails. Painting my toenails is sort of my good luck charm; I have painted them before every race.  I always try to go to bed early, but I’m so nervous and excited I really don’t think I get very much sleep.

The morning of the race I wake up early and try to take it easy until it’s time to leave for the race. After waking up, I enjoy peanut butter toast and lots of water.

Eating breakfast before a race is one of the most important meals of training. Breakfast restores your liver glycogen from the depletion from the night before. Liver glycogen helps maintain your blood sugar level during exercise. Your pre-race meal needs to be mostly carbohydrates since that is your body’s preferred form of fuel. You will need to add in a little protein to prevent getting hungry during the race. Limit the amount of fiber and fat in your pre-race meal. Fiber can leave you bloated, and fat will take too long to digest.

Don’t try anything new on race day, from clothing to food. In weeks leading up to the race, try out different food options to see what works best with your body. Good examples of a pre-race breakfast are toast and peanut butter, oatmeal with milk and fruit, waffles with syrup and fruit, or an egg sandwich. The most important thing is to find what foods work best for you.

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