Runners love to talk about shoes, races and nutrition. Every one of them has their own opinion of what the perfect pre-run snack is and what they need to eat when their run is complete. If you are just beginning, it can be confusing to know what is best for you so here is a list of tried and true tips that are not only nutritious, but also give you extra energy for your run.
Always Eat Familiar Foods
The most experienced runners will advise you to never try a new food the day before your race. You simply cannot know how your body will react to the food and you may spend the race looking for a bathroom or fighting cramps. Stick with foods you know and love, such as peanut butter. The protein will give your muscles the extra kick they need for you to have a great race.
Avoid High Fiber Foods
A routine of bran cereal and fruit may sound like the perfect way to prepare for your race, but a diet high in fiber can again cause you to need to look for a bathroom during your race. Your body definitely needs extra fiber to stay healthy, but choose to eat it after your race, not the day before or the morning of your race.
Once you know what you need to consume before your race, plan ahead to be sure that meal is available to you on the big day. Depending on what you choose, you may have to prepare the meal yourself. Many runners have developed a love for quinoa for all of the awesome energy and health benefits it provides, but quinoa is not readily available in many areas. If you want quinoa, you better bring your own.
Don’t Eat Unknown Homemade Foods
If you are staying with friends or family before the race, be sure to know exactly what you are eating before you eat it. Homemade foods may have ingredients you are unfamiliar with that could cause problems with your digestion system. Even butter could have honey additives that you may not want or be aware of.
Visualize the Strength your Food is Giving You
Many runners actually visualize the strength their body will get from the foods they are eating. One runner imagines the agility and endurance of a salmon as she eats the fish before her race. This mental image helps her gain a small edge against her competition because she truly believes the salmon gives her those attributes. While you are eating, picture your food giving you strength, energy and endurance for your run. Mental power is an important part of any exercise, but especially with runners. This is a mind trick that all athletes should try.
Eat Breakfast and Don’t Skip Aid Stations
It may seem like a good idea to not have an overstuffed stomach before you race, but you need to eat to keep your blood sugar from dropping. Plan on eating a few hours before the race and make sure you are well-hydrated. As you are running, make sure to stop at the aid stations, even if you are feeling great. Often, dehydration and low blood sugar will occur without many warning signs and you could be in trouble before you know it. Visit the aid stations as you run.
Every runner has to find the best routine for themselves. What works the best for one person may not be the best for another. Keep a journal of what you eat and drink before your runs to discover what the best routine is for you.