Pre-Race Nutrition Tips

By Krista Hawkins, Special Kids board of directors member and longtime supporter

I love training for events and getting ready to run in a race!  As a former collegiate swimmer, followed by running competitively in my 40’s, I know the importance of fueling properly during training and before the big race!  I’ve made lots of mistakes, learned a lot and have some good tips to share that hopefully you can learn from!
Carb Loading
Carb loading is wonderful leading up to the big race as long as they are good, healthy carbs (complex)! The school of white bread and white pasta (simple) might not be the best school to go to now. I love eating quinoa pasta (yes, it’s a funny word, don’t be afraid!) as it has a good amount of protein and fiber and very low sugar. It tastes just like “regular” pasta and trust me, if my kids didn’t notice the difference neither will you!  It goes well with steamed broccoli (carb) and a salad.  This would be a great prep meal a couple days before the race! From what I have learned when you eat a large amount of carbs, and do not use them immediately for energy, your body will convert them to sugar, and then to fat. If you eat the BIG traditional pasta meal with white bread the night before the race you may feel bloated and heavy in the morning, which is NOT what you want on race day.  One of my favorite meals is a small amount of chicken, a baked potato, and a small helping of green peas.

Healthy carbs reference: 
Fiber is your friend...except the night before the race!  Fueling your body with fiber-rich foods is the best thing in training! Too much fiber might not be the best thing the day before the race if you are planning to work hard in the race! All of that exercise helps the body get “going”, if you know what I mean. If you do get in too much fiber the day before, be sure to check out the race map to see where the portable bathrooms are! I learned this after having a big spinach salad with fruit for lunch and a big pasta dinner with a side of spinach salad for dinner the day before a half marathon. YIKES!

Water is the way to go!  Hydration leading up to the race is key, yet you don’t want to drink gallons the night before.  If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  If you drink too much you can deplete your bodies of electrolytes! Our normal bodies need half our body weight in ounces of water each day...think about it, we are made up of mostly water!  One of my favorite things to drink is coconut water with pineapple! Eight ounces of coconut water has 46 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 250 mg of sodium, 600 mg of potassium, 60 mg of magnesium, 45 mg of phosphorus, and 2 grams of protein. Can you say electrolytes without the sugar that Gatorade has!  WAHOO!
Race Day
Eat breakfast early.  The last thing you want to do is have a big breakfast an hour before you run. The rule of thumb I have followed is to eat about 3 hours before the race. And, don’t try new things the morning of the race....stick to what you know!  It’s best to try out your race morning breakfast before a normal run in practice to see how your body handles it. I love a banana and a half of a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter.
Have fun and use Google to research other pre-race food tips.  AND, have a lot of fun eating whatever you want AFTER the race! Well, as long as it’s pretty healthy too!

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