Running Training: Pre-Race and Race Day Nutrition

When it comes to succeeding in a fun run or running event, nutrition is as important as the training itself. Now it’s time to talk about something that’s key to making to over the finish line – what to eat on race day.

Our 12WBT Top Tips

Lots of runners ask our 12WBT team: “What’s the best thing to eat come race day? Do you carb-load, or go easy so as to not feel too heavy during the race?”

Our running experts outline the best eating plan for the day before – and day of – your race.

We’ve been sharing our nutrition tips for running training, with delicious recipes the whole family will love. In this final post we’re giving you pre-race day and on-the-day tips and meals to keep you energised and satisfied but still on your toes, so you’re ready to go when you’re at the start line!

Check out our other blog posts in the series:

Nutrition Tips

  • Runners can still put on weight if they don’t eat well. Be conscious of your calories to make sure you’re meeting your energy needs without over-eating.
  • Be snack smart! Use snacks as a hunger-stop as well as an opportunity to refuel after your morning session, or to fuel up before afternoon training.

The Day Before the Race

Eat plenty of wholegrain carbs with each meal and snack: cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch then a sensible (note: not the entire plate!) serve of pasta, basmati rice or a small grainy roll with dinner. For snacks, think fruit, low-fat yoghurt or low-fat cheese and crackers.

Limit your intake of fat and spicy foods – your stomach won’t be able to cope with these the next day, when the digestion process slows down while running.

Make sure you hydrate well, and there’s no better choice than water. A small amount of sports drinks (up to 750ml) may help to top up your body with electrolytes that are lost when you sweat but don’t go overboard!

On Race Day

Don’t have a massive breakfast. Instead, eat something that’s high in carbs, easy to digest and low in fat. Try to eat about two hours or more before the event to give your body a chance to digest your food and turn all its nutrients and energy into a usable form.

Hydrate well before you even get to the race start – a good way to tell is to make sure your pee is light in colour. (Be sure to check!) And take advantage of the water and sports drink stops along the way.

After the race, continue to hydrate well with plenty of water and a sports drink (again, not too much). It’s also essential to refuel with food. For around two hours after exercise your body is primed to repair, so eat something healthy that contains carbs and protein (think fruit salad with yoghurt, baked beans or eggs on toast, and so on).

Remember, food is fuel so fuel that run!

12WBT has six running programs, from Learn to Run right through to Marathon. You’ll receive expert support from our running specialists, as well as Exercise Plans tailored specifically to running, weekly Meal Plans and access to more than 900 delicious recipes.

Find out more about how 12WBT will help you achieve your goals!

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