I have to say, with all the ups and down of 2020, among all the change one thing I’m enjoying are the virtual races! I love having the option to enjoy my favorite races when I want. Do you take your walks in the morning – race in the morning! Prefer an evening gallivant – you got it! So now that you can make your start time when you want, don’t forget about the food and beverages that will also contribute to the success of your miles!
Here are some of our pre- and post-race tips to think about before you hit the road:
Familiarity is your friend!Race day is NEVER the day to try something new, not even a new pair of socks! The goal is for you to perform and feel your best, which means you stick with what you know and leave the trial and error for future “practices.”
Start thinking about your food and drink choices several days (or even more) before your official race day.If you’ve been training for the last several weeks/months, hopefully you’ve thought about what you’re going to eat before your walk or run. Just like you practice or “train” by running various distances, you want to practice what you’re going to eat before you head out the door. It’s all about routine, which means you reduce the risk of anything going wrong.
Now, if this is NOT something you’ve thought about – don’t panic! Before you run, choose to eat something light and familiar. This is not the time to try a new food or go for a heavy meal…you can enjoy that post-race!
A great pre-race meal is low in fat and fiber, and provides both carbohydrates (for energy) and a little protein.
Get in those ounces (of H2O)!Be sure you’re staying well hydrated – water is best – especially in the 1-2 days prior to race day.
If you plan on doing your run in the morning, give yourself 2 – 3 hours of wake time to hydrate, have your breakfast and use the bathroom. Don’t try to gulp down a big volume and then hit the road – your belly won’t be happy!
If you consume caffeine, such as coffee, as part of your pre-race norm, then go about your usual routine. I would not decide to take up drinking coffee on race day – again, only familiar food and drink on the big day.
Long distances = eating on the run.If you’re running our half marathon distance, you may consider fueling during your run. Energy stored in the muscle lasts up to 2 hours, so you will need a fuel source if you plan to run longer than that. Think simple, quick to digest carbohydrates, such as a sports drink (yes, this is why they contain sugar – to fuel muscles when they run out), bite-sized pieces of a granola bar, running gels or beans, etc. I have some runner friends who even bring orange slices with them, but I find they don’t sit comfortably while I’m running. The overall goal is for the food to break down quickly so glucose can be used right away by your muscles.
Again, hopefully you found what works for you in terms of race fuel through your training. If not, stick with what you’ve done leading up to your race and this can be something you address about moving forward.
Take the time to recover and rehydrate.Especially for longer distances, when you’re done your race be sure you’re eating and drinking to replace fluids, electrolytes and the energy we store in our muscles.
Include a protein food post-meal – from either a plant or an animal – to aid in the repair of damaged muscles and stimulate new tissue development.
Ideally, try to eat at least a little something within 30 minutes after you cross the finish line. This prevents your blood sugar from dropping too low. Then when you do sit down to eat, consuming about 20g of protein is ideal for optimal muscle recovery.