Congratulations on signing up for your race! As a rule of thumb, you don't ever want to try anything new on race day. This holds true for what you eat before running. What that means is whatever you have been eating before your training runs should be what you eat before your race. Training is not only to make your muscles stronger and increase your endurance, it's also training your body to digest food and use it as fuel.
Before each of my runs I have a whole grain piece of toast (maybe two depending on the length) with peanut butter and a banana. I eat this about an hour before I run to give it time to digest. How long is your race?
"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow."
I ran my first 5K in December, and I avoided coffee that morning -- it sometimes upsets my stomach, and I was worried abotu the caffeine dehydrating me. I drank a small V-8 (for the potassium), a Vitamin Water and ate a NutriGrain bar about 90 minutes before the race. I think that I might pick up some Lara bars for the next races I have.
Congrats on your first race! And I agree with Nutrition Tara--what you eat prior to training runs is what you should eat prior to your race, regardless of what time the run is. Skip the coffee if you don't usually have it prior to runs. The energy of the runners and your first race will get you going!
I personally like peanut butter and banana and wheat thins, plus half a glass of water, consumed about 1.5 hours before the race. Too much closer to race time and I'll be needing to use the portapotties, or will have side cramps! I bring Larabars or other snacks for immediately after the race.
Definitely stick to what you have been eating prior to your training runs. If it has been working up to this point it should get you through your race. Make sure you bring some after race treats as well incase the race does not have a goody buffet.
My two cents - and I'm a frequent racer so this is the best advice I can give from my experience:
1) Eat 2 or more hours before the race. Food needs time to digest.
2) Eat familiar things - don't try anything new.
3) You didn't mention how long your race is, but basically if it's a shorter distance, maybe just 200-300 calories, a half 300-400 and a full, 400-600. The purpose of eating is just to restore your blood sugar levels as they have lowered during your previous nights sleep. It's also to make sure you're not running on an empty stomach which forces the body to use fat as energy and the body is much less efficient at this.
4) If you drink coffee normally, don't skip it. You will do yourself more harm than good, contrary to belief. Have a cup, and a cup only (and not a mega cup - a standard cup of coffee is 8oz). This should also be around 2 hours before the race - caffiene takes about 2 hours to have a positive effect in runners. But you can easily overdo it - remember coffee is a diuretic. Race adrenaline is powerful - but it doesn't make up for the morning cup of joe when your body expects it.
5) Drink about 10 ounces of water pre-race. Don't over-hydrate - or you might have to urinate mid-race and this is not pleasent. You want to be adequetly hydrated, and maintain throughout the race.
I am an avid coffee drinker. I ran the Corktown 5k in Detroit this morning and between the loss of an hour thanks to daylight savings time and trying to get my dog fed and through her morning routine I missed my morning coffee and I can attest that it has been messing with me all day!
I'm running my first race tomorrow. it's a 12K. The thing is I live 2 hours away from the race site and we will arrive around 1.5hours before we actually run (this has to do with parking, group photo, etc). So if I eat when I leave my house, I'm going to be hungry again when I arrive at the site.
I bought one of those energy gels, but I've never tried it before. Is it really a bad idea to consume this before the race then?
I also bought a recovery bar for afterwards. I take it that's OK to eat since I will have already completed the race?
Thanks in advance for the input
The thing is, nothing just instantly works. It takes several hours for food to digest so it can be used as energy.
The answer to making sure you're not hungry at the line is proper loading the days before the race. The meal two hours before is just to top off. You shouldn't need a ton for a 12k though - so no need to overdo it. Have a good carb rich meal tonight, something 2 hours before with quick digesting carbs, and I think you'll be fine. You can do the gel if you think it's absolutely necessary - but just keep in mind that won't really do much for you right away.
Hope this helps!
Most of what is said here is good. One thing: coffee is not a diuretic. That has been de-bunked time and again. I have coffee before I race, and in longer runs take GU with caffeine. Google it, coffee is not a diuretic.
I don't want to get into a big debate - but caffiene is in fact a diuretic.What new research shows is people who consume caffiene regularly in moderate amounts tend to get used to it and don't have the diuretic side effects. But, two key words: a) regularly b) moderate. If you don't consume caffiene regularly, or consume too much, you will be affected.
I'd actually be more concerned about the stimulant effects though.
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