Race Day Food for Runners – What’s Best on the Big Day

Healthy food is essential, find out in our race day food for runners guide.

Race day food for runners guide

It’s not every day you run a race, so it’s worth taking the time to prepare yourself for the event. What you eat in the morning can stand you in good stead and improve your time and finishing position. Here’s our race day food for runners guide.

Unfortunately, races tend to be early in the morning, which means you’ll probably be a bit out of sync on race day unless you get up early every morning. It’s not a bad idea to get up a few times as soon as you would on race day just before anyway, to get some practice in.

In our race day food for runners guide, we show you how to prepare what to eat and a few other suggestions for race day.

It’s all about timing

An alarm clock
Timing when you eat your food is everything.

You might need to eat at 6 am to give yourself enough time to digest the food in time for an 8 am race. By giving yourself at least

an hour or so before the race, and making sure your breakfast has gone down, you’ll ensure you are in a fit state to run.

If you are still full when you run, you may get a stitch. You could also be bloated and risk being sick, not only because you ate too much but through the excitement of competing.

Drink plenty of fluids

A pink water bottle
Hydration is everything

You should also have plenty of fluids beforehand, but be careful; don’t become bloated. Don’t forget you may be running a long distance and you might need a toilet break as you go round as well.

One of my worst experiences running was during my half marathon in Cordoba. It was cold, rainy morning, and about half way round I was desperate for a wee. The trouble was it was so cold out, and what with the blood being in most of my other parts of the body, you can imagine the pain of weeing in the cold.

Drink water slowly throughout the race. Coffee isn’t a bad idea as it could give you that extra boost as well, especially if it’s very early in the morning. You could also try sports drinks as well, to provide you with extra hydration. Avoid alcohol the night before as well, save that for the celebration afterwards.

Eat breakfast

A bowl of yoghurt
Avoid those fry-ups on the morning of a race.

It’s essential to get a hearty breakfast before you run, but steer clear of those fry-ups and bacon sandwiches. You don’t want too much fat in your system when you’re running, so light carbs, like cereals, wholemeal bread, and even rice, are excellent sources of protein.

Lean meats that are easy to digest are a great option. And don’t forget to have a banana about half an hour before you set off, as they are easy to digest and will provide you with an extra spurt of energy.

Have stuff ready the night before, so it’s all in the fridge. Maybe you could do the rice the evening before and just heat it in the morning. Milk is another good option as it has protein and is easy to digest.

Post race

As soon as you finish the race, you’ll need to stock up on fluids and food too. Don’t be tempted by beer for at least an hour or so, mainly if you’ve run far and have lost a lot of fluids. Often after the race, you’ll be starving, and you don’t want to do any damage, so take it easy and try eating small portions.

So, to ensure maximum performance on race day, what you eat on the day is just as important as your training. Get your diet planned, have small portions of carbs and proteins, and keep your fluids up at all times. Best of luck.

That’s our race day food for runners guide, what do you like to eat on the day? What’s your race day food routine? Leave us a comment or send us a Tweet. Why not also check out ‘5 energy foods that improve your running‘ while you’re here?

About Barry O'Leary 10 Articles
Barry has been running ever since his neighbour bought a huge Rottweiler. He used to have to run past the house every afternoon on his way home from school, since then, he’s just loved running. Barry regularly runs, up to three times a week. He has run in several 10km charity runs in London, and also one half-marathon in Cordoba, Spain. The best place he has ever run was in Sydney, where he used to run around the Opera House in the evenings. Barry lives in Seville, Spain. When he lived in the centre, he would run along the river. Now he lives on the outskirts, but he’s found a lovely stretch which goes along the countryside. Over his running his career he has had several injuries, including severely spraining his ankle. He thought he would never run again, but within a year and a half, he’d done a half marathon. One day he’d like to run a marathon.

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