This past Saturday I planned on getting in 15 miles…. Well, you can’t get too far if you skip dinner the night before!
Unfortunately, I was too lazy to go downstairs and make myself a meal on Friday night and still attempted to run 15 miles the next morning. My route through the city takes me down to Fort McHenry first, then over to Canton and back. To complete 15 miles, my plan was to route back to Fort McHenry for a second time. However, I was feeling a bit fatigued just getting back to Federal Hill before making it down to Fort McHenry again. At that point I had water with me and had taken three Clif Bar Gel Shots but my mind kept fixating on this giant glass of water I had put in the refrigerator for when I returned (something I always do when going for a long run). So, I stopped three miles short than my proposed goal for the day.
It was a good thing I did stop there because I started to feel very light-headed as I was walking back to my house. Incredibly disappointed, I vowed to myself that I would never go without dinner the night before a long run…. a very dumb decision.
This brings me to my topic for today, proper nourishment for a long run or for race day!
Many of you have heard … Carbo-load!!! Well, it is true but I prefer in moderation. What I’ve read and have heard is it is best to begin your carbohydrate intake 2-3 days leading up to race day. Grains and starches get stored in your muscles as the most accessible form of energy, glycogen. Muscles burn the glycogen, especially during longer runs. The more glycogen that is stored up, the more endurance you will have for your race or your long run. This past Saturday, I hadn’t prepared my body for the long run, which is why I “hit the wall” and became incredibly fatigued. My body ran out of the little glycogen it had. What I prefer is starting the carb intake earlier in the week and moderately boosting glycogen levels leading up to the long run or race day.
Foods that are high in carbohydrates include whole grains, pasta, rice, and sweet potatoes. Other high-carb foods to consider eating the days leading up to but maybe not the night before a race are cereals, fruits, vegetables and beans. I recommend not eating these foods the night before a race because they are high in fiber which is difficult to digest and can cause cramping.
Proteins help the body repair any damages to tissues or bones and also burns as fuel during a marathon. It’s advised to stick to lean protein such as lean meats, fish, egg whites, poultry, and nuts. Beans, like I mentioned above, are high carbohydrates but also are great sources of protein. But because beans have fiber, they are hard to digest and can cause cramping so it’s best to load up on beans earlier in the week rather than the night before.
Yes, you can eat fats leading up to your long run or race day. However, it is recommended to stick to healthy fats like olive oil and avocados! Yipee! Avocados!
Make sure you’re hydrating all throughout your training. H2O hydrates your muscles and works as an internal air conditioner. When running during warm summer months, the water in your body will produce sweat which is a natural coolant for your body when it is experiencing high temperatures. If you do not have enough water in your system, your body will overheat which can lead to sickness or death!
#5. Pre-race Eating
It is important to eat the day of your race. The last few days have been spent eating so that you’ll store “fuel” but doesn’t make it readily available for when the race begins! You’re go to should be high carbs low in fiber and low in fat. Banana with peanut butter on whole grain bread or english muffin will do just the trick!
So load up your plate and fill up your glass! Your body will be working extra hard on the day of your race or long run. Aren’t you hungry now? ;-)
As a reminder, I’m not a doctor, nurse, trainer, or expert in the medical field. These are tips that I’ve read throughout my training that have helped me. If a problem persists, see a professional.