Ever since I was 10 years old, I would wake up before the crack of dawn, stand out in the cold, and run a 5-mile race with my family the morning of Thanksgiving. Even though I would always complain, the Turkey Trot was a tradition and I loved every bit of it. If your family is like mine, whether running 5k or 5 miles, Turkey Trots were required every Thanksgiving. Year after year, and throughout my running career, I've learned about the importance of nutrition and how it affects your performance and fitness. If you have the mindset that you shouldn't eat before a run because you'll be chowing down on a feast later, get rid of that attitude. It's important to fuel your body properly before and after a race, and most importantly, to listen to your body. Not everyone's body is the same and functions well with the same food. Trial and error will play a role in deciding any pre-race fuel. But if you have no idea what to eat before you exercise, have no fear. I'm here to help with 10 things to eat before running the annual Turkey Trot.

1. Banana 

Jocelyn Hsu

A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter is my personal favorite pre-race snack. It is high in carbohydrates (31 grams), and is easy to digest. Also, it has two important electrolytes, potassium and magnesium, which will keep you hydrated and makes the whole process of running much easier. 

Potassium helps prevent cramping of muscles and can help regulates nerve. Magnesium will help regulate muscle and nerve function while managing blood sugar levels. Vitamin B6 is packed in bananas, keeping your immune system in tip-top shape. Bananas are a super-food and will definitely help you run super fast.

2. Greek Yogurt and Fruit

yogurt, milk, sweet, berry, strawberry, cream, dairy, muesli, blueberry, granola, mint, dairy product, frozen yogurt
Jenny Mun

Generally packed with 18 grams of protein, Greek yogurt is sure to give you the energy boost you need to run in the morning. It's also full of potassium and acts as an anti-inflammatory, which means it has healthy bacteria that's good for your gut health—no one wants a finicky stomach on race day. Top your yogurt with your favorite berries, granola, or nuts to add more flavor, crunch, and ultimately, energy. 

3. Cottage Cheese and Mixed Berries

10. cottage cheese with blackberries & cashews

jules:stonesoup on Flickr

Cottage cheese might not be the most obvious pre-race snack, but it has so many health benefits people may be passing up. Low in sugar and calories, but high in protein, cottage cheese is among the most raved-about foods in the fitness industry. For every 100 grams, there are about 11 grams of protein and lots of Vitamin A and D. Add a handful of mixed berries to the cottage cheese to add an extra dosage of vitamins and fiber.

4. Oatmeal 

porridge, cereal, milk, sweet, oatmeal, muesli, granola, oatmeal cereal, rice
Christin Urso

One cup of cooked rolled oats contains 27 grams of low-glycemic carbohydrates. Eat a bowl of oatmeal at least 60-90 minutes before the race so you can have time to digest it. It contains soluble fiber, which makes you feel fuller for longer, giving you the boost of energy you need right before the race.  Oatmeal will not only help you improve your PR (personal record, in running terms); it has so many more benefits. Studies have shown it can reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Top your oatmeal with other super foods like cinnamon, banana, or walnuts, for an extra boost of energy.

5. Whole Wheat Toast and Peanut Butter

peanut butter, chocolate, sweet, milk, cream, butter, dairy product, cake, candy, peanut
Jocelyn Hsu

Key word: "whole." Whole grain or whole wheat has the extra benefit you're missing in refined grains. Whole grain products essentially use the entire original kernel: bran, germ, and endosperm. Bread is a great source of energy, as it's full of carbohydrates. But whole grain carbs won't spike your blood sugar levels so you won't feel the tiredness you would compared to white bread. Whole grain bread also contains a lot of fiber (about 3.8 grams for every two slices) to keep you full throughout the race. 

Peanut butter is a staple essential for many athletes, as well. It contains healthy fats, like monounsaturated, and will keep you satiated until the end of the race. One tablespoon of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein, too. This is the perfect pick-me-up to eat before running. 

6. Eggs

cooking eggs, stove, pan, skillet, Fried Eggs
Julia Gilman

Scramble, boil, poach, sunny-side-up, or make into an omelet, eggs will be sure to give you a boost before the Turkey Trot. As a runner, or in general, eggs have amazing health benefits. They can protect the heart, fight inflammation, and improve vision. Egg protein is easy for the body to digest and absorb, too, allowing for muscle repair after a tough workout. And there's so much diversity that can be done with eggs., however, personally, two hard-boiled eggs does the trick for me before any of my runs. 

7. Granola Bars

chocolate, cookie, sweet, candy, cake, oatmeal
Alex Tom

All granola bars are not created equal. They're easy on-the-go snacks, but can be loaded with hidden sugar and unhealthy fats. It's important to read the label to find out what you are buying, or better yet, make it yourself. Try out this homemade banana peanut butter granola bar—way better than any sugar-filled store bought ones.

Granola bars that are the most nutritious have simple ingredients. Look for only wholesome ingredients containing fruits, nuts, or berries. According to Registered Dietitian, Erin Palinski-Wade, who spoke with Time Health, you should use the "rule of 5." Look for bars with "at least 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of unsaturated fats," to get the most filling effects. A few of the recommended bars by dietitians and runners are RXBars, LÄRABARs, or CORE foods.

8. Smoothie

strawberry, ice, cream, sweet, sorbet, berry, dairy product, milk, yogurt, banana, smoothie, pouring, cup, glass
Caroline Ingalls

Smoothies are not only quick, but help keep you hydrated and provide energy for a race. A variety of fruits and vegetables will be packed with loads of antioxidants and other micronutrients, and are generally pretty easily digested.

There's an unlimited combination of mixing fruits and vegetables into a smoothie.Try out some of these homemade smoothie recipes before the race. 

9. Figs, Dates, or Raisins

sweet, berry, raisin, cranberry, pepper, dried fruit
Niki Laskaris

If you're running a little behind schedule and need a quick boost of energy within 60 minutes of the race, dried fruit can be the remedy. Full of fructose, an easily digested sugar, a handful can do the job. They're also all packed with micronutrients, such as potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

10. Coffee

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, mocha
Jocelyn Hsu

Caffeine is classified by many sports scientists as an ergogenic aid, a stimulate that enhances athletic performance. It affects the central nervous system, reduces fatigue, and increases productivity. It can also helps you focus your mind and technical motor skills during strenuous activity.

A study from the University of Connecticut focusing on runners, cyclists, and swimmers proved that caffeine improved endurance, mostly in high-intensity exercise. Caffeine pills or black coffee are both recommended options, but be careful not to drink too much. You might have to save the Grande Caramel Iced Latte for after your race, though.

Test what works best for your body and gives you the most energy before race day. These foods are fuel you should definitely eat before running, and it's vital to give yourself the proper nutrients before any workout or race. Essentially, runners need a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats for an optimal outcome. I know that running can be a struggle, but think about the delicious turkey, desserts, and fix-ins you'll be chowing down on all Thanksgiving day. As growing up in a competitive family, whoever is the fastest gets served the first and total bragging rights until the next year.