Race Week Nutrition
Eat this, (definitely) don’t eat that.
We have butterflies in our stomachs, but obviously they won’t give us the fuel we need to run our half-marathon this weekend (agh!). Our coach, John Henwood, has given us specific instructions for what to eat—and what to not to eat—in the days leading up to our race.
Download the guide here
4-5 days out
You’re cut off
Stop drinking alcohol and say no to junk food.
Don’t experiment with new foods
This is not the week to get adventurous with your diet. Make sure that every meal includes a carb and a protein.
Now more than ever, you need to be hydrating with eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
2-3 days out
Focus on your “glycogen” levels (throw that term around a few times and you’ll sound like a legit runner)
Most carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is your body’s most accessible form of energy—and what you want to be fueling your body with during the race. Once your body runs out of glycogen, it will start using fat, but it has to work a lot harder to convert the fat to fuel. When you hear runners talking about “hitting the wall,” that’s usually when they’ve run out of glycogen and are starting to use fat.
This is the opportunity to carbo load that you’ve been waiting for
You can’t entirely load your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, which is why it’s important to start a few days prior to the race.
Carbs are king
Aim to have 85-95% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates—rice, oatmeal, tortillas, white bread, bagels, waffles and low-fiber fruit, like bananas or skinned apples, are all good choices.
For once, water weight is a good thing
Storing carbs will help you store water. The ratio is typically three grams of water for every gram of stored carbohydrates. The combination of carbs and water will ensure you arrive at the race fully fueled.
The day before
Eat breakfast and lunch like usual
If you’ve been following the eating plan, these meals should already be full of carbs and proteins.
Snack between meals
Keep your energy levels up by eating at least two healthy and carb-intensive snacks throughout the day—choose a granola bar, white toast with jam, yogurt or skinned fruit.
Enjoy a light dinner
Have a good pasta dish with salad or vegetables. Skip the creamy sauce. Dinner should be 80-100% carbs and 0-20% protein. This will top off your glycogen stores nicely before the run.
The morning of
Wake up early
Have your breakfast about two hours before the race. Any closer to your start time and you’ll risk getting stomach cramps.
Eat like normal
Eat what you always eat the morning before a long run. Go with something you’ve tried before—that you know won’t upset your stomach.
Nerves or not, you must eat something
It’s a long race and your body will need more to fuel it than simply what you had for dinner the night before.