The Pre-Race dinner is important to top off the calories and energy storage for the race but be aware of a few of the pitfalls. For many years, eating pounds of pasta/carbo loading the day before and the entire week leading up to the marathon was a common practice. One of the problems as we know is that “full” or even bloated feeling by stuffing down all the pasta. In many cases athletes would experience the same heavy stomach feeling the morning of the race and spending lots of time standing in line at the bathrooms.
Consider a more balanced approach to eating with a combination of lean protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each athlete is different with respect to what works best for themselves but consider making the meal balanced. In many cases the meal two days before the race is the most important.
Consider lean meats, seafood, chicken with vegetables and some salad to round out your pre-race meal. You don’t need to over-indulge in all the pasta. Words we all know well “Never go into the race trying something new especially with food selections the day before the race”. I know this is common sense but over the last 25 years racing, I can’t tell you how many times I see athletes struggling with stomach distress race morning because they ate bad seafood, spicy food, etc. Practice you pre-race eating strategy before race day!
The next question that has received so much publicity over the last 5 years is what to eat race morning. There are so many different theories and they keep changing every year. Keep in mind, that most athletes will have plenty of calories from the prior evening meal to carry them through the first part of the race and trigger effective fat burning. Eating a massive meal even several hours before seems to make no sense to me but I see athletes doing it all the time
with varying successes. If you decide to eat a small energy bar with coffee or water consider consuming it a few hours before the race so it does not spike the blood sugar and you end up having that “crashing effect” at the 15KM mark of the race. Also, watch the amount of coffee consumed race morning as it does dehydrate the system if you consume many cups. Personally, I don’t eat anything before a race not matter what the distance other than a cup of coffee. I will start consuming calories based on my subscribed plan once the race is underway – however that is just what works for me. Again, experiment in your training on what works best to consume race morning – a bagel/peanut butter, some protein drinks, energy bar, fruit, cereal, etc.
The key is to keep it “light” and don’t overeat.
By Wayne Kurtz
Wayne Kurtz is founder of RaceTwitch.com and Endurance Racing Report, he has a lifelong passion for racing in various endurance sport races throughout the world. He is also the author of: ‘Beyond the Iron, a training guide for ultra-distance triathlons.’