Some runners have a proven system for what works on race day, but if you’re in need of a few tips, here are some widely accepted strategies for pre-, during- and post-race nutrition:
The Day Before
Hydrate well the day before, but don’t drink water excessively. Drinking too much water will filter all of the electrolytes out of your system and leave you deficient on race day. Be sure to stay hydrated, but moderate your intake.
Eat a normal dinner the night before the race. Fresh bread from San Luis Sourdough provides an ideal carbohydrate. Fresh vegetables and a lean meat or vegetarian equivalent should also be a part of the meal. The most important thing is that you eat what your body is used to. Consume normal portions and normal foods. Downing six pounds of spaghetti will only throw your system for an unexpected loop, potentially causing very unwelcome issues on race day.
The Morning Of
Try to get up early enough to eat a good breakfast at least two hours before the start of the race. This will give your body enough time to digest the food before you run. Some people have a hard time eating food before races due to the early timeframe, nervous jitters or any other number of reasons. Whatever the case may be, try to get at least some food down, and eat only things you are used to. If you usually eat cereal, don’t go for a plate of bacon and eggs on race day. Do your best to use the restroom at least once (ideally twice) before you start. Avoid the portable restroom crowd by getting up early and taking care of business at home or at your hotel.
During The Race
Continue to hydrate as needed. There will be aid stations stocked with water and Fluid Performance along the course. Fluid Performance has approximately 100 calories per water bottle. GU energy gels will also be available along the course. Eat these as necessary to avoid the unpleasant experience of “bonking,” or running out of energy mid-race. If you think you’ll need solid foods, bring some with you. However if you haven’t eaten solid foods in training, you should probably avoid them on race day. Again, the key is to stick to what your body is used to.
After The Race
Immediately after the race, head to the Fluid booth and take down 8 ounces of their recovery drink. Fluid provides the exact ratio of nutrients your body needs to replenish your muscles and keep soreness at bay in the coming days. After that, grab breakfast (free for runners, and includes delicious breakfast burritos) and enjoy the day! The race is done, your nutritional needs have been met, and it’s time to celebrate! Maybe even grab an ice cream. After all, you’ve earned it!