What to Eat Before, During and After a Race
Hi everyone! I’m Cassie, the blogger behind Almost Getting it Together. After talking about clothes all day at my job in social media, I wanted an outlet to talk about my passions other than fashion – traveling, running, living a healthy lifestyle and of course, food!
I love sharing my knowledge and encouraging others to be the best that they can be. To do just that, I’m bringing you a three part series to talk about training for races in the height of marathon season. This is the second part in my series – nutrition. Check out my previous post on training tips and be sure to come back next week to learn about race day and recovery.
The most important thing for nutrition while racing is that you need to practice how you will fuel before, during and after your run with your training runs. Make sure you have enough carb stores to get through your run and that you are eating enough protein to recovery properly. Find out what works best for you (everyone is different!) and replicate that on race day to ensure you have a successful run.
Depending on when you run, you might need a light snack before you head out the door. I always keep a batch of homemade energy bites in the fridge so I can have one or two if I’m doing a run of 6 miles or more first thing in the morning. I make mine with dates or figs, nuts (typically almonds or cashews), Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Oatmeal and then fun add-ins like unsweetened coconut, cacao powder or nut butter. These are a great way to get natural sugar, carbs and protein to fuel your workout.
Before a long run (10 miles or more), I always eat oatmeal with fruit and nut butter. You have to do what works best for you, so experiment – maybe sprouted toast with peanut butter and banana is your jam (pun intended) or you can’t stomach anything more than a little bit of granola and almond milk. Be sure you know what works best for you so you can do the same thing on race day!
During Your Run
Many people use energy gels when they run. I do when I am running a race for ease but during training runs I use my homemade energy bites. I try to eat 50 calories or so every 45 minutes. Your carb stores are depleted after 90 minutes (all that yummy oatmeal is gone!) so it’s important to keep fueling your body because if not, you will begin to feel fatigued and your legs will tire.
If this is your first distancee race, be sure to try out how you are going to fuel for race day during your long training runs. If you don’t want to use energy gels at all, I also suggest dates with nut butter or even honey packets – you need sugar and carbs to keep those legs moving.
It’s natural to want to eat everything in site after a long run – or nothing at all if you are so exhausted from all the hard work you just did! You need to replenish all the carbs you just burned as well as eat protein to fix all the tiny tears running puts in your muscles. The magic ratio you are looking for for optimal recovery is a 4:1 carb to protein ratio.
Personally, I want nothing sweet after a run since I had so many sugary things to fuel my way through. I crave salt (see below: hydration). Lately, my go-to post run food as been sauteed kale, mushrooms and onions with eggs and a carb like quinoa or brown rice. You could also add a little Ancient Grain Oatmeal for a savory dish. I’ll usually have a little Greek yogurt with peanut or almond butter as well.
If I’m meeting up with friends for a late brunch or lunch after my long runs, I’ll make a quick smoothie like my Cherry Chocolate Recovery Smoothie. Cherries help fight inflammation caused by running and are a great recovery food. I add protein powder to help repair my muscles and lots of green leafy vegetables to get a good dosage of vitamins and minerals.
This goes without saying – drink water! Invest in a water bottle made specifically for running if you are running in hot weather or running long distances. When you begin to feel dehydrated during a run you will feel tired, sore and even begin having negative feelings about your run. When I randomly start to develop a bad mood during a run I drink more water and it always helps me snap out of it! Remember to drink water even when it’s cold out… your body will still get dehydrated!
When running long distances, sometimes water alone isn’t enough. It’s important to get electrolytes as well, especially pre and post run. I use Nuun tablets since they are all natural and don’t have any added sugar and it’s easy to pop them in my water bottle. Coconut water is also an awesome source of electrolytes and potassium. If you find yourself bloated after a run, be sure you’re replenishing electrolytes.
Runners, how do you fuel for your training and races? New runners, do you have any questions?