Training for an endurance race like a marathon or half-marathon take months of dedication and hard work from athletes. Equally important is making sure your body is primed for any race by consuming the proper food. Pre-race meals should begin as early as seven days prior to your race.
Here are some quick tips to help you plan your pre-race meals:
Consume extra carbohydrates the days prior to the race. Your body will thank you on race day if you aim for a few hundred extra calories per day from whole grains, fruits and a variety of starchy/non starchy vegetables. This will provide you with energy, vitamins and minerals that you’ll need on race day. Load up on some extra servings of oatmeal, whole grain breads and cereals, apples, bananas and sweet potatoes on the days leading up to the race. Taper high fiber sources (such as large amounts of fruits/veggies) a few days before to keep your stomach calm.
Don’t try any unfamiliar foods the week before the race. Limit dining out as much as possible to avoid foodborne illness and/or upset stomach from greasy/high fat foods or alcohol consumption. Take some time to do some meal prep- baking some chicken, batch cooking rice, stocking up on healthy snacks such as yogurts, fruit, energy bars and nut butters.
The week before the race, try to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your energy levels high and to prevent overeating in one sitting (you probably will want to eat that often, anyway). Consuming a balance of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and moderate amount of healthy fats will keep your brain and body fueled and de-stressed for race day. A healthy meal race week dinner might include grilled salmon, brown rice with herbs and olive oil and broccoli sprinkled with parmesan cheese for some extra salt. A healthy snack may be a banana with peanut butter, and don’t forget to have dark chocolate every now and then for extra antioxidants.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Consuming fluids and electrolytes before, during and after the race is critical. Get to know your fluid needs and preferences well before race day. Do a daily “urine check” the week before the race- If you’re urine is clear/pale in color, chances are you’re doing a good job staying hydrated. Don’t drink it all in one sitting, either. It’s best to drink small amounts throughout the day, about 12-16 cups for most endurance athletes. Lastly, be aware that alcohol and large amounts of caffeine can deplete your fluid stores, so save the majority of your celebratory beverage for after the race.
Below are links for pre-race recipes: