To allow the body to work and perform as you need it to it must be fueled. But the how, when and what of fueling is where it can all get a bit tricky. A poorly timed meal before your race can leave you feeling flat, tired, nauseous and with stomach cramps, creating less than ideal PB running conditions.
What and when you eat will depend on the time of your run or activity, the intensity at which you will perform it and the length of time your event will take. How you fuel to get a PB at park run will be different to how you fuel before your long run.
If you have less than an hour (ie- 30-40 minutes before your event) you want to keep your pre exercise meal high carbohydrate and easy to digest. Good options can include
Fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, watermelon, grapes, strawberries (be careful with pears as they can increase bowel movements)
You can have an energy gel (20-30 minutes prior to your event)
You can have 250-300 ml of an energy drink
· An English muffin with honey
· A tub of yoghurt
· A muesli bar
· A bowl of cereal with low fat milk (high fat milk is longer to digest)
· Smoothie (try berries, low fat milk/ or milk alternative, drizzle of honey, dollop of yoghurt)
Whilst a cup of coffee for some people is the perfect kick start to their day and gives them the energy boost they need, for some caffeine can be less than helpful. If you are sensitive to caffeine (read the information panel on energy gels as well as some of these also contain caffeine) it can cause headaches, tremors and have you running to the bathroom faster than the finish line.
Foods to stay away from before your race
Anything high in fat or fibre and these are heavy and slow to digest. This includes foods such as muffins, cakes, meats, chocolate, heavy grainy breads with spreads such as nutella and or peanut butter. These types of foods force the body to focus on digestion rather than energy production and draw the blood supply into the gut to facilitate the breakdown of the food. This increases the risk of cramping, nausea and vomiting while racing.
It is important to remember however that these are purely guidelines and we are all individual in our needs. What works for you may not work for a fellow runner and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to check out what other runners are eating but always try new things in training first. Finding what is right for you takes a little bit of trial and error (hopefully more trial than error).
If you would like to better understand how your body reacts and performs after eating certain foods keep an exercise and food diary for 2 weeks. Write down what you eat and when you ate it, the training or racing that you did and how you felt during and after training. Did you run well, did you feel fatigued, did you feel heavy, did you have any stomach complaints?- (Diary Template Attached)
Don’t forget sometimes the meal you ate the night before can give your digestive system a work out, so before your race day keep the meal simple and healthy and try to avoid heavy stodgy greasy and spicy.
Remember KISS- keep it simple silly
Food is there to nourish and fuel our body so make your choices count- The most important thing you can do is to HAVE FUN
In Health & Happiness