Long run days are a great opportunity. Not only are you building up your
endurance, it is an opportunity to experiment with various foods and fluids while
running. The goal is to find what works best for your body. You are looking for fuel
that will sustain your efforts without weighing you down. (It’s also the time to learn
how to eat and run, which can be quite tricky!) There are a plethora of energy bars,
gels, or chews on the market to sample.
As the big day draws near, it is important to plan for your nutrition and hydration
needs. By this time, you should have determined which snacks and liquids work
best for you. Stick with what works for you!
What should you eat the day of the race? Eat what you normally eat for breakfast on
your long run days. If you’re not used to a big breakfast, race day is not the day to
start eating a 3-course breakfast. Remember to hydrate early and often. A couple of
hours before the race, drink 16-24 ounces of water or sports drink, then another 6
ounces about 15 minutes prior to the run.
For distances that take longer than 60 minutes, carb-rich snack foods are
recommended approximately every 30 minutes. Keep in mind that you only need
between 30-60 grams of carbohydrates at one time. Hydrate during the race as well,
as mentioned in the previous post.
After the race, a carb snack will help with the recovery process. Try to eat a
carbohydrate snack within the first 30 minutes after the race, and again in 2 hours.
Your muscles will need protein to help repair and recovery, but not all runners can
eat protein right after the race. Try to incorporate protein into your body within the
2 hours following the race. Keep drinking water after the race as well.
Above all, listen to your body. If a plate of pasta and beans sounds good after your
race, then have a plate of pasta and beans. If you want a banana and a sports drink,
then have that. Just like setting your own running pace, nutrition and hydration
preferences are unique to your body.