Racing a half marathon is very different than running a 13+ mile long run on the weekend. When you are running as hard as you can for 13 miles, you are burning through a lot more carbohydrate as fuel. On a slow, easy long run your body is also relying on a good amount of fat.
So fueling in the days leading up to a race should be slightly different from normal, everyday fueling.
It has taken me a lot of experimenting to determine what works best for me, and I’m still learning. But generally speaking, I find I feel my best on an every day diet of closer to 40-50% carbohydrate, 25% protein and 25-30% fat. I’m talked before about increasing protein and fat in my diet, but I want to be clear that the majority of what I take in is still carbs! The definition of high protein or high fat is much higher, up to 30-40% protein and 50% fat or more! That is not an ideal runner’s diet.
However, in the days leading up to the race, my diet shifts to closer to 60 or 70% carbohydrate. I start incorporating more sandwiches, potatoes, oatmeal, bagels and even an extra dessert or two. Some examples of meals I had last week pre-race:
- Turkey sandwich on sourdough bread with avocado and cucumber
- Scrambled eggs and a bagel for breakfast
- Stir fry with extra rice for dinner
- Banana and nut butter, Clif bars and Picky Bars for snacks
Thanks to StrideBox for the complimentary monthly box! I’ve been finding new-to-me running goodies. My favorite this month were the Picky Bar’s Chai to Catch me flavor- so good!
Race morning for a half or full marathon, I stick to what works for me: half or full bagel with sunflower seed butter and a banana, plus some sort of electrolyte drink about 2- 2.5 hours before the race.
For Sunday’s half, I took one gel around mile 6 but was still feeling full and only got about half way through it.
Post race, I immediately get in some carbs and protein if available. I snacked on dried fruit and tortilla chips that were handed out at the race. After getting showered, we went out for brunch and I had a roasted pepper avocado omelet, rye toast, berries and some of my daughter’s bagel.
In the first day or two post race, I am careful to focus on protein and carbs to replenish and repair my body. On Monday, I tracked my food and hit 127 grams of protein which is a bit higher than normal, but was around 30% of my intake for the day.
My foods included:
- Breakfast green smoothie with protein, banana and berries + scrambled eggs
- Tuna hummus roll up + string cheese and tortilla chips + piece of dark chocolate
- Greek yogurt + a few of my daughter’s animal crackers
- Ham, roasted potatoes, broccoli + raw veggies + hummus
- Banana “ice cream” with whipped cream and sprinkles 🙂
I feel really good this week. I wasn’t sore the way I was after the NYC half, probably because the downhills there left my quads hurting for a few days. But I’m being conservative and sticking to the bike for a few more days… until Saturday’s Newport 10k in Jersey City!!
Do you change your eating before and after a race?
What pre-race dinner or breakfast work well for you?