I love to run. I started running during my freshman year of high school and over the past 7 years, through the process of trial and error, I have learned what is best to ingest before and after a race and what should be completely avoided. I don’t want you to go through the same tedious (and honestly a little painful) process that I did, so I’ve compiled a list of tips on what to consume before and after a race.
1. Drink lots of water
Make sure you drink lots of water before the race (the night before and the day of). It’s important to be hydrated to avoid passing out in the middle of the race — yikes. Drinking fluids will help you maintain your energy and do your best, whether you’re taking on a marathon or a 5K.
2. Eat pasta the night before the race
Carbs are a great source of energy, which of course are essential to help you maintain a good pace throughout the race. To get those carbs in, I’d recommend getting a group of people together the night before and cooking pasta together. I do it with my teammates — it’s a great way to bond while getting in all that fuel for the run. Plus it’s an excuse to stuff your face with pasta; what other reason do you need?
3. Be careful what you eat right before the race
If you know that you have a sensitive stomach, maybe consider just eating something small like a banana or a granola bar a little while before the race. Eating before a race will give you more energy, but if you know that you might get an upset stomach, wait until after you finish. There will be plenty of free food at the finish line.
4. Have a Gu energy gel right before the race
Gu energy Gels are small liquid packets that give you a boost of energy that you might not be able to get from just consuming food. Again, you don’t want to feel tired while you’re running, so these Gu energy gels will give you that jolt you need in order to strongly cross the finish line.
5. Don’t eat anything out of the ordinary
It’s important to continue eating what you normally eat so your body won’t have an abnormal reaction to the new food. Eat healthily before a race, but don’t change your diet so radically that you become sick. You don’t want to be throwing up on race day…trust me.
6. Drink chocolate milk after the race
Milk is a great post-run drink. Not only is it good for your bones, but it also contains both protein AND carbs, so it’s the perfect recovery drink. It will help replenish the electrolytes you lost during the run, and if your stomach can’t quite handle food yet (more likely to happen after a long race) chances are it will hold chocolate milk.
7. Eat a bagel after the race
After the race you’re probably going to feel tired, so it’s important to re-fuel and regain the energy and glycogen you’ve lost. Bagels will help do just that. Plus, they happen to taste awesome, there’s no arguing there.
Hopefully these tips will help prep you for your big day. Good luck.