I'm experienced enough with shorter-distance races that I know what I can and should eat before a race. 5k breakfasts take almost no thought. I have a banana and part of a protein bar, plus a cup of coffee to get things moving along, intestinally-speaking. K and I call this our race breakfast tradition. I try to eat all this about an hour before the race. But as I only have one Half and a 10k under my belt when it comes to long-distance races, I'm sometimes still not sure what to eat.
Before a long-run, I have about half a protein bar. But that's a slow, easy run. So what's a good go-to for race-day foods?
|If you have time to cook, eggs in a basket are good for race days.
This article breaks down foods to eat or avoid depending on how much digestion time you're giving yourself, but for some reason there aren't many breakfast foods listed. Since most of my races are in the morning, this isn't really that helpful, especially now that I'm a morning runner. (Who knew I'd ever call myself that?)
While I have pretty much stuck to my banana-and-protein-bar combo, I've also had success with two egg whites (no cheese). Peanut butter toast is great, too, and oatmeal is a solid bet as well. (I really love eggs before a race, but cooking takes prep time, and I'm rushed enough as it is. Back to the drawing board.)
|Eating more than an hour before a race allows for bigger meals.
Case in point, M ran a race with K and me last spring after drinking a protein shake. The weight of the shake, plus the dairy, left him feeling sluggish, over-full, and completely nauseated. He could hardly keep up a jog toward the end, and it was only a 5k.
Eating nothing before a race can be detrimental. You're more likely to push through your race strong, with energy to spare, if you eat something before getting to the starting line. I don't mind being hungry suddenly halfway into a race, but I hate starting a race feeling starved. There's a perfect balance I strive for.
Finding the perfect breakfast combination can be annoying; it's pretty much trial-and-error. The most important tip I can offer is to test new foods during training so that you're ready on race day. Eat, digest, run at race pace, and really monitor how you feel.
What are some foods you've been successful with? What were some bad choices that led to sticky situations? Be brave; share!