Today's guest blog is brought to you by Tina Gowin - a registered dietician whom I had the pleasure of meeting through my involvement in the LUNA Chix. Since I'm nine (!!!!) days away from the marathon race day nutrition is something that has definitely been on my mind. Read on for some really helpful tips about how to fuel before and during a long race!
Race Day Nutrition
you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard multiple times “nothing new on
race day.” This means, don’t wear a new pair of sneakers or the shorts
you just bought at the race expo. It also means, don’t eat anything that
you didn’t try during training. The best time to practice what to eat
on race day is on your long run days. Follow these guidelines when
planning what to eat before and after your race.
most races start in the morning, your breakfast meal will likely serve
as your pre-race fuel. This may mean that you have to wake up earlier
than you want to, but you’ll be glad you did. Aim for a meal that is
high in easily digestible carbohydrates, along with some lean protein.
Examples include oatmeal made with low-fat milk and fruit or a peanut
butter and banana sandwich. This pre-workout meal should be low in
fiber and fat as these two nutrients take longer to digest and the last
thing you want is to start the race with a heavy stomach. Think about
what you’ve been eating before your long runs during training. Stick
with that! Race day is not the day to experiment with a breakfast that
the guy at the pasta dinner swears by. Save the experimenting for
training runs instead.
for the timing, everyone’s body is different and digests at different
rates. A larger meal will take longer to digest while a smaller one will
take less time. A good rule of thumb is to go for the solid foods if
you have more than an hour before start time, and aim for semi-solids or
liquids if you are within an hour of go-time. Again, everyone is
different. I’ve heard of athletes who eat a bean burrito and run 15
minutes later and I’ve also had runners who need at least 2 hours to
digest a simple meal. Listen to your body and learn from previous
During the Race
a long race like a marathon is likely to last a few hours (unless
you’re super speedy), taking in carbohydrates (sugars) for energy during
the race is essential. After all, carbohydrates are your body’s main
source of fuel during an endurance activity and you don’t want to run
out of fuel before reaching the finish line. Again, stick with whatever
form (and brand) of energy you were using during training – it could
have been sports drinks/gels/blocks/beans, or even crackers or fruit. In
general, you don’t want more than 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour as
your body won’t be able to process it quickly enough and you’re more
likely to end up with gastrointestinal issues if you take too much.
Experimenting with timing and type of fuel during training is key. And
definitely take advantage of the water stations – you want to be taking
in 5-10 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes depending on how much you
soon as you can after finishing your race, get a snack into your system
to help with healing and recovery. Your muscles just worked really hard
to get you through 26.2 miles and it’s tempting to want to just treat
yourself to a beer right after crossing the finish line. You can have
the beer; just make sure you get some food in first!
best post-race snack will have a 4:1 ratio of simple carbohydrate to
lean protein. My personal favorite is chocolate milk. Other options
include a bagel with peanut butter or a smoothie made with fruit and
yogurt. The snack is meant to get some quick nutrients to your muscles
for repairing. Aim to have a well-balanced meal about 2 hours after
finishing. This means include some vegetables and fruits, carbohydrates,
and lean protein.
okay to reward yourself for finishing the race, but just make sure you
give your body the nutrients it needs to heal. Hard training and running
long distances can suppress your immune system. You don’t want to pig
out on junk food and then catch a bug before you have a chance to tell
all your friends and family about your amazing feat! As always,
hydration is key, so make sure beer isn’t the only fluid you’re
you’re interested in a more personalized nutrition plan for training
and race day, talk to a Registered Dietitian like me! You can contact me
at email@example.com or connect with me through my website www.GoWinNutrition.com
Tina Gowin, RD, CDN is the owner of GoWin Nutrition
and works in corporate wellness at a 5,000 employee company in New York
City. She is a Registered Dietitian who works with clients to increase
energy, improve athletic performance, and meet their overall health
goals. Tina is an avid runner who is always looking for a new challenge.
She also enjoys hiking trails, experiencing NYC's many restaurants,
experimenting in the kitchen, and traveling whenever she can.