6 Tips for Race Week Eats + a Pre Race Meal Plan

Race season is upon us.

My Instagram is filled with countdowns to race day! So many marathons are right around the corner: Steamtown, NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, MCM… not to mention the hundreds of half marathons, 10ks and 5ks in every state!

The training is done.  Now the last big piece within your control is nutrition.

How much should you eat when you are tapering? Should you carb load? How many carbs are enough? What’s too much?

Obviously, it varies greatly from person to person but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Most of your week going into the marathon should look very similar to what you normally do– breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks, letting your hunger guide you. You may eat slightly less while you taper, but you may not.

Personally, I always found my appetite was about the same in the taper as during training! That is okay.

2. About 3-4 days out from the race, begin to lower your fat intake and replace it with additional carbohydrates.  The protein can remain the same or can decrease slightly.  You will need the additional carbs for energy race morning and they are more easily accessible than fat for quick energy (ie, feeling that ‘pop’ in your legs).

3. Focus on quality and quantity of carbohydrates at the dinner two nights out.  These are the carbs that will be available race morning.  For example, if your race is a Sunday, consider Friday evening your ‘carb loading’ dinner. Easily digested carbs such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice or even bread are all good choices.

4. You do not need to go crazy carb-loading! Eat about the amount you normally would, maybe slightly more, but make a larger percentage of it from carbohydrates.  Cut back on fats and raw veggies.

5. The day before the race, eat simple foods that your body digests well and avoid new or spicy foods.  Also avoid anything fermented that might stir up your system: kombucha, sauerkraut, or spicy sauces as well as heavy creams or too much cheese.

6. Race morning, give your body 2+ hours to digest simple carbs plus a big of protein such as a banana with peanut butter for a shorter race or a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, walnuts and honey for a larger race.

To make it even easier, I put together a 7 day race week guide for you with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks including a grocery list and all the recipes.  Fun, right?

To check it out, you can grab yours here.

How do you eat the week of a race?

Do you have a favorite pre-race meal?

PS- I started a free 90/10 clean eating community where we support each other in making progress in healthy eating (but without perfection).  I’d love to see you inside!


I’m linking up with Marcia’s healthy slice and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesday on the run and Running on Happy, Coach Debbie Runs, Train with Marc for Coaches corner.


7 thoughts on “6 Tips for Race Week Eats + a Pre Race Meal Plan

  1. I learned that I don’t run well on “carb loading”. I don’t know if it is because I’m an “older” runner, but I do much better when I eat more protein. My favorite pre-race dinner (the night before) is fish. The morning of the race, I do a smoothie with a scoop of protein. Then it’s Tailwind for the race.

    It’s interesting how different we can all be!

    • That is interesting! I agree that loading up on carbs is not beneficial, but do you add any sides to your fish? Veggies? Potato? It’s very possible to run on fat instead of carb (I experimented with this several years ago) but it’s hard for the body to find that extra gear of speed without some easily accessible carbs.
      Thanks for sharing!
      Laura recently posted..6 Tips for Race Week Eats + a Pre Race Meal PlanMy Profile

      • Oh for sure–I have rice or potatoes with my fish, and usually a veggie or a salad. Not a fan of the keto diet, but I do keep fat in my diet. I guess, I just eat like I normally do.

  2. Great advice. It’s interesting to see the heavier (?) meal two nights out. I learned the hard way that over-eating the night before just leads to race day misery!

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