Are you torn about what to eat the day before a race? How exactly do you carb-load throughout the day before your actual race? Let’s take a look!
General Rules on What to Eat
A good place to begin is to plan a full day of carb loading the day before your race. Consuming carbs will maximize the amount of potential energy your body has stored- sounds like a great idea before a big run! Learn more about carb backloading here.
As a general rule, you should carb load by eating a higher-than-normal percentage of pasta, rice, bread, and other carbohydrates at each meal the day before your race. This also means you should opt for less fats, proteins and veggies- carbs are what your body needs! Having smaller meals through out the day is also beneficial and will ensure that you feel full.
Any runner knows that when you are out there, hitting the pavement, you will sweat. When your body sweats, it is shedding a good amount of sodium. In order to help regulate your sodium levels, have some pre race salty foods. Consume a few salty (but healthy!) snacks a head of time and prepare your body for what it is about to release. Pickles or sauerkraut are great examples of salty foods that will help boost your sodium levels but aren’t cumbersome in other ways.
Skip The Beers
Even one drink can tax the GI method and interrupt REM sleep (the maximum curative kind of rest). Your system may feel the effects the morning after, even though your brain does not. So pass on the pre race beers– you can celebrate with a cold one once the race is over!
Some runners believe that they race better following a brief, gentle ‘shakeout’ run. Going for a small casual run before the big race can burn your nerves and loosen up your legs. This can be especially important if you have traveled to your race location or have been otherwise immobile in the days before the event.
Some runners may prefer to take the day before a big race off from running. It really is all about personal taste. At this time however, research shows that even just a 20- to – 30-minute walk is a fantastic idea.
Aside from what to eat the day before a race, it’s important for you to drink well, too. Water is a runners best friend! It is vital to begin your run fully hydrated. “If you are working on empty, you cannot make up that throughout the rush,” says trainer Kelli Shallal, M.P.H., R.D.
If you want to be specific about your water intake (which is a great idea to ensure you are hydrated!), divide your body weight in half and drink at least that many ounces every day the entire week leading up to the race. Setting timers throughout the day to remain on track is also super helpful.
Also, consider what types of drinks you reach for the week of your big race. Water is an easy and beneficial option to keep you hydrated. Low-carb sports beverages such as G2, Nuun, and Propel are also good choices to add electrolytes such as potassium and sodium to your body. However, if you are looking for electrolytes, it is possible to get extra electrolytes by merely adding small additional salt to your meals (sodium is an electrolyte!). So stick with the all mighty water before the race!
No fatty foods
There are certain foods you want to be sure to skip before a big run. Fatty foods are one of them as foods that are high in fat may upset your stomach, keep you awake through the night, or lead to GI issues on race (this idea is backed by trainer Melissa Majumdar, M.S., R.D.). Be sure to eat a well balanced, high carb meal before the race. However, by now you are probably aware of what works for your body and what foods may have an adverse effect on your system. Listen to your gut (literally and figuratively!).
Pay Attention to Your Dinner
Eating a healthy dinner the night before a race is extremely important, almost more important that what you eat for breakfast on race day! The carbohydrates you eat the night before will be available to your body as energy throughout race day. Sure, a bad breakfast may disagree with you if you eat something which does not agree with you anymore however digestion requires approximately six to eight hours give or take. Hence, that pre race dinner the night before is indeed your very last opportunity to consume foods which will lawfully fuel you through the next days race.
How to Maximize Dinner Foods
All of this carb loading talk does not mean you want to float across your race like a giant bowl of noodles. A better move would be to fill about half of your plate using grains, one-quarter with vegetables, and the remainder using lean protein. And remember that eating more carbohydrates means altering the balance of carbs, not automatically absorbing a lot of these.
If you overeat at night before the race, this can also have an adverse effect on how your feel the next day. Eating too early and going to bed hungry or eating too late and feeling stuffed while you are trying to sleep are also both dangerous paths to go down.Research has found that it is better to eat a little bit on the early side, say 5 or 6 P.M. the night before the race. Your body will have time to begin to digest and you will not feel overly full when going to bed. A small snack such as yogurt or pretzels before bed is alright too, just to hold you over until morning!
As for what a beneficial dinner may consist of, think about a typical plate and picture filling half of it with sausage and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, one-quarter with lean protein such as fish or chicken, also one-quarter with leafy vegetables such as green beans, Rudser-Rusin states. For shorter races such as 5Ks or even 10Ks, it is possible to go a bit lighter on the sausage and thicker over the veggies (that are still carbohydrates, recall).
As far as supplements, you may take them the day before or even right before the race. Choose one that boosts the effects of your carb-loaded diet such as Carb Load Boost™. It will ensure a rush of energy during your race as it will allow an increase in burning of carbohydrates to give you power and strength.
There is a reason most races sponsor a pasta party as white noodles are an accessible supply of readily digestible carbohydrates. Pastas garnished with tomato sauce or pesto and paired with poultry, a salad, and, on occasion a slice of bread, make for great balanced meals. However, if pasta is just not your thing, then try those choices with comparable macronutrient profiles.
- A palm-sized piece of broiled fish or poultry–that tend to digest easier than beef or pork–along with rice, zucchini, and sweet potato.
- A turkey sandwich sub on a white roll with vegetables such as cucumbers, avocado, and tomatoes.
- Sushi rolls- three average sized rolls is a good size
- Steer clear of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and bok choy.
- Fatty sausage or pepperoni- or try a few pieces of some Margherita pizza, using fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and ginger.
Ready To Run
Now that you have taken a good look at what to eat and not to eat before a big race, you are almost ready to run! Get your plate of carbs and maximize the benefits by also grabbing some Carb Load Boost– you’re body will thank you are you head toward that finish line!