For most runners, it’s not until the day before a big event that they start to think about getting their nutrition right. While it is important to ensure that your muscles have plenty of stored fuel, this does not mean you have to carb load to prepare. Instead, the best approach is to make sure your last couple of meals the day before are rich in carbs and protein. It’s imperative too that you enjoy a good breakfast to get the most out of your run.
So, the day before a race make it a priority to choose carb rich options for both your lunch and dinner to ensure your muscles are topped up with fuel. Good options include pasta or noodles with a little lean chicken or fish, a few vegetables with a large glass of 100% orange juice to go with, or bread rolls with tuna or salmon and a skim milkshake.
Again, and most importantly, eat something before the run or risk feeling flat and running out of juice as you start the event with low liver stores of fuel. And sugary foods such as bananas, sports drinks and lollies will not cut it, as their energy peak will last just 30-60 minutes, which is likely to be several hours before you actually start your event. If in doubt a simple strategy is to measure your calorie burn from the time you get up to the start of the race (I usually use my TomTom GPS Sport Watch for this). You may be surprised how many calories you actually burn in your pre-race preparation and warm up. This alone often warrants a substantial snack before a major race.
Instead, light but carb rich breakie options that will not sit on your tummy include a plain breakfast cereal such as Weetbix and skim milk, some peanut butter or eggs on toast or a liquid meal such as a mixed juice or smoothie. If you find that you really struggle to eat before a run, try a small amount of an energy bar or even a skim milk coffee. Ideally we will eat something 90-120 minutes before a run to get us through the hour or so of running/walking. If though you do need to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to make it to the event, you may need a top up snack an hour or so before you run. Good options include one slice of white bread with peanut butter, small skim milk coffee, protein/carb energy bar or a liquid drink such as a homemade smoothie.
Most importantly you need to keep well hydrated. Drink plenty of water the day before your run and on the day of the event if you are prone to cramping, add some Hydralyte to your water bottle to help prevent cramps as well as to aid hydration. Remember, for the vast majority of us, sports drinks are not necessary and are simply giving you extra calories that you are unlikely to actually burn during the big race. Stick to water, take a bottle with you to sip on before the run and enjoy every minute of the race you have worked so hard to prepare for.
- 2 large chicken breasts, grilled
- 3 cups cooked pasta
- 2 cups pumpkin, cooked and cut into firm cubes
- 1 cup frozen peas, cooked
- 1 cup broccoli, cooked
- 3/4 jar tomato pasta sauce
- ½ cup light grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 180ºC.
- Place all vegetables and chicken into a deep, round cake tin. Mix Dolmio sauce through mixture and sprinkle top with cheese.
- Bake until heated through.
Thank you to TomTom for providing me with a Runner Cardio GPS Sport Watch . For more information on the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Sport Watch, head to their website: www.tomtom.com.