What to eat before a running event, according to a nutritionist


Fuel up before running all-out. 

Picture: iStock

Whether you’ve already signed up for an event or if you’re just thinking about running your first 10K, you might have a few questions about what’s going to go down on race day.

What do you wear? What will the registration process be like? Do I get to carb load? Is this actually going to be fun?

The answer can be absolutely yes if you plan ahead with some enjoyment-enhancing strategies.

“Running is a demanding sport and your diet plays an important role in helping you reach your goals. If you’re serious about staying strong, preventing injury and recovering fast, you need to pay attention to what you eat,” nutritionist and naturopath Kira Sutherland tells myBody+Soul.

Sutherland who specialises in sports nutrition and is the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival expert shares her tips for fuelling your body before and after a run event – and sadly, if it’s a 10K or less you’re doing “you shouldn’t really need to carb load as there should be plenty of fuel within your body from the previous day’s food come race day,” she says.

Here are her other advice gems.

What to eat when training

“Training of less than 1 hour only needs a small snack such as a piece of toast, a banana, a few dates, or a small glass of juice. Alternatively, training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is okay if your body is comfortable with it. If training in the afternoon, a small snack 1 hour before training will help with the session, such as muesli bars, fruit, toast with avocado, or a small handful of raw seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.

“After all training sessions, it is important to have a meal or snack as soon as possible to help your body replenish its carbohydrate (glycogen) stores. Consume approximately 30 -60 grams of carbohydrate and 10 to 20 grams of protein, depending on if you are having a meal or a snack. This is not the time of day to be ‘carbohydrate phobic’. Your body needs carbohydrates to replace the glycogen you have used during training. It is actually the best time of day to be eating them. Great post-training carbohydrates include vegetables, bread, rice, pasta, oats, cereals, and other grains. Choose proteins sources such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, seeds and nuts, beans and soy,” says Sutherland.

What to eat the night before

“Before a race, a high-carb meal fills up your glycogen stores (your stored carbohydrate), which provides you with the energy you need during a big race. Make sure to choose the whole grain pasta variety as it’ll keep you full longer. I personally love having a bowl of pasta with salmon and vegetables the night before. It’s important to remember this is not about being perfect or eating only super healthy, this is about getting your glycogen stores to a great level for race day,” she explains.

What to eat the morning of

“The morning of race day can be a nervous time. The timing of your pre-race meal will depend on the start time of your event. If say the marathon starts at 7am you should aim to eat a light, high carbohydrate-based breakfast about two hours before the race. Minimise fibre, fat and protein intake at this time to decrease the chance of gastrointestinal upset. Good food choices are white bread, crumpets, honey, jam, bananas and smoothies. Avoid oats as they contain fibre and may cause gastrointestinal upsets, especially when you’re nervous.

“As a rule – eat a smaller portion of food if you only have a short window before the race and a larger portion if you have a few hours. To prevent dehydration, begin the event well hydrated and aim to consume approximately 200ml of water every 15-20 minutes. Longer sessions (or shorter sessions in high heat) usually call for an electrolyte replacement,” explains Sutherland.

For more information on your journey to Be a Well Being or to register for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival on 17 September 2017, visit Run.Blackmores.com.au.



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