What do I eat before I run

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In the weeks leading up to a big race, many questions may arise about what to do to make the day go well and successfully. And two of the most common confusions: what do I eat before I run? And how do you refuel during the race?

Obviously, fueling your body for performance is very important whether you are running a 5k or a marathon. But refueling properly can take some trial and error, and it’s easy to get lost in all the information available on what will work best.

Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated, however. Here we have the basics on what you need to know about refueling for a race, regardless of the distance.

From general refueling rules to foods and products to how to tailor your nutritional plan to your specific race distance, we’ve got all the information you need to feel great when you cross the finish line.

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How to eat before running any running distance

Your refueling plan starts the day (or even the week) before your race, and Nancy Clark, RD, author of Nancy Clark’s Guide to Sports Nutrition, suggests focusing on adding foods high in carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, to your diet. She suggests eating these foods after exercise (for example, your shake-out run), so that your muscles have enough time to store them as glycogen. Swapping simple with your regular meals will help you get more carbs in your day. Try eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs, a sandwich for lunch instead of a salad, or a side dish of rice for dinner.

Allison Koch, RDN, sports dietitian and certified running trainer, says many runners make the mistake of not refueling before a race. Much like the plan for the night before the meal, the main goal on the morning of your run is to fill up on simple carbohydrates that settle down well. “The farther you go, the more you’ll need it,” Koch says. Oatmeal with fruit or a bagel with your favorite nut butter are great pre-race meal options.

A little protein in the mix is ​​also a good idea; you should aim for around 15-20 grams, which you could get from protein powder, nut butter, milk, or yogurt. (Keep in mind that “protein builds and repairs muscle, but carbohydrates fuel muscle,” Clark says.) While fruits like berries can help keep you full, don’t overdo it, says Koch. You want to keep fiber and fat, two nutrients that are slow to digest, to a minimum in the morning of races to avoid stomach problems.

Plus, this pre-race meal is not only important for your muscles, but it’s also important for your mind.

“Blood sugar is what feeds your brain. If you have low blood sugar and your brain is not well nourished, it will tell you, “This is no fun and I don’t feel like running,” says Clark. “The brain controls your whole body. So, the goal is to keep blood sugar from dropping and starting the run while being well fed and keeping it up while running. “

How to eat in any race distance

If you run for 30 to 60 minutes (for example, if you’re doing a 5K or, in some cases, a 10K), you probably don’t need nutrition halfway through. But for longer distances, such as half marathons and full marathons, you definitely need to take in a few calories halfway through to keep your body functioning at its best.

When determining what to have during When running, Koch suggests looking for products with around 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Then, if you run for more than an hour, make sure you’re getting around 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. “Look at the ingredient list and look for multiple sources of carbohydrates,” Koch explains, as this will help your body absorb the fuel. It means a mixture of glucose, fructose and sucrose. (It’s actually easier to get this mixture from gels or gummy candies, she says, because more natural foods often contain limited forms of sugar.)

Keep in mind that the best way to feel great on race day, with a boost of energy and without stomach issues, is to practice the way you refuel during your workout. This means trying different breakfasts or snacks before the race, as well as eating the foods you will eat during the race. Then use these tests to create your race plan.

“When runners have a plan, they do a better job of refueling, instead of just listening to the body when it’s thirsty or hungry,” says Clark.

Also, don’t forget about hydration. “You wanted to get into the race well hydrated,” says Clark. If you wake up and your pee is dark in color, this is a good indicator to start drinking more. And if it’s really hot, add salt to your pre-race snack as well.

A word of advice: check the race site before the big day, so you know where the water stations are and what fuel they have so you can plan what you bring accordingly, says Clark. Check during training and you can even try the fuel they offer, so you’re good to go right off the bat.

How to create a mid-race refueling plan

One word: practical. You won’t know if something works for you if you try it before race day. So put nutrition into your training plan and see how you fare with different foods and products. Also, practice timing: you might feel better eating something every 40 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.

“People want to make a plan, put it into practice, know what works and believe in it,” says Clark. “Part of your training is training your digestive tract. “

Koch agrees, saying, “Just like competitive eaters train to face large amounts, runners should train while training. If you think you can’t take charge of the nutrition, you just need to practice.

Here are several stories you can read to help you choose your fuel and make a plan for your specific race:

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    What should I eat before running a 5K or 10K run?

    Since these distances are shorter, probably around an hour, at all costs, you probably don’t need to feed yourself while running. But it does mean that your before and after nutrition becomes very important. As with any race, focus on simple carbs first, Koch says. And eat 60 minutes to two hours before you start.

    “You can probably get by with less food than you would for a half marathon or a full marathon,” she adds.

    If you hate eating before a tough 5K, Clark suggests having a bowl of cereal before bed. As long as you are loading up on carbohydrates the night before, you should be able to play without eating before the race. But you will definitely want to test this in training.

    ›› Need more information on what to eat before a 5K or a 10K? Read all about the simple fueling strategies that will lead you to a PR. Plus, here’s what to eat specifically before a 5K run.

    What do you eat before running a half marathon?

    When it comes to how often you refuel during a half marathon, you need to consider your preferences. Is it easier for you to consume something based on time or distance? Some people refuel every 45 minutes (15-20 if you opt for water or a sports drink), while others may fetch water or a sports drink every three kilometers and gels or candy every five miles, Koch explains, like a loose rule.

    “Practice it on your long runs and stick to it on the run,” she says, knowing you’ll add another fuel stop when you hit the 13.1 distance.

    ›› Get all the answers to your half marathon fueling questions, including what to eat before, during and after the race, here.

    What do we eat before running a marathon?

    Often before a marathon, you will have a few hours between when you wake up and when you actually start to run. If that’s the case for you, you’ll probably want to have two meals before you start running, says Clark. It could mean eating oatmeal when you wake up, then a PB&J while you wait at first. (Again, try to practice this as best you can before your long training runs.)

    It may seem complicated to come up with a diet plan for a marathon, but Koch gives a general guideline: take water (or a sports drink) every mile. And after the first hour, aim for at least 30 grams of carbs every 30 to 60 minutes. While it may be okay to skip certain stations, it is better to err on the side of things rather than being conservative. This means that you want to have a lot of sports drinks or gels with you. “You can always throw one in, but you probably can’t catch another,” Koch says.

    To avoid stomach problems, be sure to take these gels or candies with water, rather than a sports drink. Koch suggests testing new products before your short workouts to see how they feel as well.

    ›› For more details on how to plan your marathon fueling schedule, read all about marathon nutrition before, during and after the race. Plus, learn what to eat the week leading up to 26.2.

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