Settling on your favorite pre-race foods can take some time and patience. It’s a difficult balance of figuring out what works to fuel your body for the work ahead, what settles well in your tummy, and what tastes good.
My biggest challenge with race day fueling is that I generally run on almost empty stomach. I roll out of bed and hit the road (you know, before my body realizes what is going on). On race day, I need to eat because it will be sometimes an hour or more before I start running.
It’s also worth pointing out that I don’t have a gallbladder, so keeping my GI system happy is incredibly vital to everyone’s enjoyment of a race. I look for pre-race foods that sit easily and don’t lead to an upset tummy.
One of my favorite pre-race foods is simply a spoon of peanut butter. Really, any nut butter will do, but peanut butter is most often what I have on hand. Peanut butter is loaded with protein and carbohydrates which keep my stomach full and my energy up. I also appreciate how easily I digest nut butters. Enjoy it right from the spoon or paired with a piece of whole grain toast. Please note that nut butters can be higher in calories, so watch your portions.
Bagels serve me well as a pre-race food. They are simple carbs, which afford energy to fuel your upcoming activity. For me, bagels are easy to eat, and settle well. I prefer them plain before a run, but adding some protein (like peanut butter or an egg) can really drive up their value to your race day. Whole wheat or whole grain bagels are my preferred variety for running, but I’m not too picky.
Nature Valley Wafer Bars
Are these the best choice of pre-race foods? No. However, these Nature Valley Wafer Bars sit right and have enough carbs and proteins for shorter races. They are 200 calories each, with 5g of protein and 8g of total sugars. Plus, they are so much lighter than a regular granola bar, so I don’t feel weighed down or heavy. I don’t recommend for a longer event but these are a great way to stave off hunger and give a burst of energy for a 5K.
I think we can agree that oatmeal is always a good idea. It’s simple, but can be hearty. Oatmeal has protein and complex carbohydrates to leave you full with a slow burn of energy to get you through the miles ahead. You can eat it as is, or add in protein powder, fruit, or even nut butter butter or PB2. Oatmeal is also rich in iron which helps with oxygenation: super helpful for a race or running event. Instant (and flavored) oatmeals have a lot more sugar than what you make from scratch, so factor that into your race morning decision.
Honey Stinger Waffles are one of my favorites. They are light to eat, sit well, come in so many yummy flavors, and provide perfect pre-race sustenance. The waffles are sweetened naturally with honey, giving a delicious burst of carbs. Your body also gets an instant boost of energy after eating, which helps reduce muscle fatigue. Honey Stinger has been a long time favorite, and the waffles serve me well before (and during) long runs.
What are your favorite pre-race foods?
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