Tag Archives: eating before a race

Runner’s World Review – Perfecting Your Pre-Race Food Strategy

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

rw nov 2012

November 2012 – Perfecting Your Pre-Race Strategy

This may seem an odd pick, since I have no races (oh, hell, even running!) on the horizon, but I think it is a great topic for a number of reasons.

The first is that the rest/recover season (which many of us are in, and I would be regardless of the leg) is an ideal time to look back at our race season and figure out what worked (multiple 20 milers DID make me feel more confident going into the marathon) and what didn’t (running a race made what could have been a blip of an injury into a more persistent son of a gun. whoops).Nutrition is often at the top of these lists, an area that we are all always tweaking and working to improve.

Second, I love hearing about what people eat before/during/after runs, so I encourage you all to comment on what works for you (and also what doesn’t! my list includes a fiber hearty day that was topped off with a marathon training session after work – so I start this 26.2 mile run at 430 pm in March – not the balmiest time of year!- with not enough warm clothes and by mile 8 my stomach was already rumbling. 4 bathroom trips and countless tears later, I finished that run completely petrified that I would not be able to handle an ultra. bad times).

Finally,  I wanted to highlight this article to get your take on it. This one (and a few others I have read of late) recommend way more food than I know my body can handle before a race. After carb loading in the day(s) before (which does not mean an insane amount of food, just a higher percentage of carbs – but all those carbs make me feel very full!), they then suggest this race-morning for a 150-lb person (before a full or half-marathon, so don’t get any ideas 5-kers, lol!):

3 to 4 hours prerace
1 cup cooked oatmeal with 2 tablespoons honey 62 g of carbs
6 ounces yogurt 17 g
1 large banana 31 g
2 tablespoons raisins 16 g
4 ounces juice 14 g
12 to 20 ounces water 0 g
Total Carbs = 140 g

90 minutes to 2 hours prerace
1 slice bread with 1 tablespoon jam 28 g
24 ounces sports drink 47 g
Total Carbs = 75 g

30 to 60 minutes prerace
1 energy gel or serving of energy chews 25 g
8 to 12 ounces water 0 g
Total Carbs = 25 g

I’m sorry, but those 2 tblsp of raisins will put me right over the edge! I am lucky if I can choke down a bagel, nevermind juice and sports drink and a banana and all the rest! Of course, the way they make the carb calculation is individual, with the magic number being 1.5-1.8/pound body weight. The above tally is for a 150 lb runner and 240 carbs. I would need about 190, so you can scratch the sports drink – and that still seems like too much (volume and variety) for my belly. The dairy-heavy yogurt alone is a recipe for disaster!

I have learned that eating a few hours before I run is very helpful for digestion – but that presents its own challenges when races start as early as 7am. If there are a lot of participants, it means you need to be at the start 45-60 mins before. Nothing like a nice cup of oatmeal at 3 am!

So what about you? What works when you race? Do you count carbs/calories or just go by feel? Do you eat at a certain time? Please share because when I read your comments I can pretend like I am researching for a race I am about to do instead of dutifully donning my goggles for yet another swim session (which to be fair, is quite lovely in its own right but decidedly not the same!).

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