Eating for Race Day

As the fall brings cooler temperatures and more weekend road races, runners need to fine tune nutrition habits to enhance performance.  The days of eating a lot of pasta the night before a race and drinking as much water as possible during a race are long gone.

The night before a race meal can consist of any food normally eaten as long as it has been eaten before previous training runs.  Easily digestible foods are most often recommended, but some professional runners have been known to eat steak dinners the night before a race.  The most important thing is to try different foods before training runs to determine what works best for you.

On race day it is recommended to consume a pre-race meal of 200-300 calories with 12-16 oz of water, 1-2 hours before the start.  During a short event, consume 4-8 oz of water every 15-20 minutes to maintain hydration.  For events lasting more than 60 minutes, an additional 120-240 calories per hour is recommended from a sports drink, gel, sport beans, or other high carbohydrate food to maintain blood sugar levels and enhance energy for performance.

Post race recovery includes a post race snack within 20 minutes of finishing, not standing in line at the post race beer tent.  Depending on one’s body weight, consume a snack that is about 250-400 calories and consists of one gram of protein for every three grams of carbohydrates, and continue to re-hydrate.  For salty sweaters, it is recommended that some salty foods be eaten to replace lostsodium.  Then visiting the beer tent is ok.