Here’s a few of my nutrition tips before Coventry Half Marathon.
You need carbohydrates to fuel your run so make sure you eat properly the day before. You don’t need to do anything special but just take some time to think about your meals and make sure you eat well and have a portion of carbohydrate with you evening meal.
An easy mistake to make is to think you need to carb load and have the biggest bowl of pasta ever….which makes you feel bloated and full and are still digesting the next day. So no need to eat more than normal just be mindful of your meals.
A big issue for me is runner’s trots! So I tend to cut back on fibre intake a little bit in the 2-3 days before a half marathon and in particular the night before. This basically means I turn my carbs white and cut out brown bread/brown pasta and other high fibre foods such as beans, lentils, big portions of salad or veg.
I’m also not great with alcohol so sadly this is also on my avoidance list before a race. I also save the chocolate sundaes for after my event because the combination of sugar and fat also isn’t great for me. These are things I’ve discovered are issues for me and although it’s quite common are not hard and fast rules and you need to figure out your own individual peculiarities.
With training and strange working hours I often eat my evening meal pretty late on a normal working day. But the day before a half marathon I like to make sure I have my evening meal a bit earlier than usual e.g. 6pm so that I have enough time to digest it. Another option that is to have your main meal in the middle of the day.
On race day I’m going to get up super early so that I can eat my breakfast 3 hrs before the start of the race. For me this is a bit of a necessity to help with the dreaded runners trots. So for Coventry Half marathon which is an 8.30am start….I’m getting up at 5.30am in an attempt to eat breakfast at 6am.
I’ll be focussing on low fibre, high carbohydrate foods that are easy to eat and digest but high in energy. My go to race day breakfast is overnight oats and a coffee. Other good options are toast and jam and porridge.
I’ll have some coffee with my breakfast but then try to be caffeine free until the start of the race again to help with runner’s trots and too many trips to the loo at inconvenient times.
In the time between breakfast and the start of the race I’ll sip some water or energy drink and I’ll have an energy gel about 10minutes before the start of the race.
During the race you’ll need to take on some energy while you run to fuel you for the distance. Ideally you’d start taking on some energy and fluids from about 30minutes in to the race.
Current research and advice is to aim for 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour for races taking 1-2hrs. This could be a mixture of energy drinks, gels and sweets and the best products are those that use both glucose and fructose. For Coventry Half marathon I’ll have 2 or 3 High 5 energy gels in my pocket and then I’ll rely on water from the feed stations.
Whatever nutrition you want to use during the race you need to practice it during training on your long runs otherwise you’ll it might be a shock to your stomach and leave you with the dreaded runner’s trots! The purpose of the practice is to train your gut to tolerate it, discover what works for you and what doesn’t, and develop the habit of taking on energy, figuring out how to carry it, how to open it and how to eat/drink it on the go.
After the race try to eat and drink within 30-60min of finishing. It’s tempting to choose sugary treats but it’s important to get some carbohydrate and protein down to replenish your body and speed up your recovery. This could be as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or beans on toast.
I always have some healthy post-race snacks packed in my race bag.
A great source of information about sports nutrition that I really like is Fuel the Core
I hope this helps but do share your favourite race day breakfast or any of your own nutrition tips.
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