Ask any seasoned marathoner, and everyone will have their own pre-race rituals, ranging from a full week's worth of nutrition programs, to the night-before pasta dinner.
If you're wondering what you should eat for your big race, we break it down with your basics!
Luckily, preparing for a half or full marathon like the BMO Vancouver Marathon isn't a complete science. And if your goal is to just finish, these tips on how to fuel can give you that extra edge to run your best race!
These are only guidelines, but it's also important to try to keep a consistent eating pattern that you had during training–why mess with a good thing, right?
The week before:
- Hydrate. If you've been training already, you likely know that this is essential.
- Avoid processed foods. You don't want to feel heavy or sluggish, which is a normal side-effect of many processed foods (even the ones labelled "diet", or "low-calorie").
- Eat your veggies. Especially ones that have nitrates like beets, celery, arugula or spinach.
- Don't try anything new. New foods can cause bloating, gas, and/or sluggishness. Just like your shoes, stick with what you know works!
The day before:
Liquids. First, is it supposed to be a warm day? If yes, then try to include electrolyte-rich drinks or tablets like Nuun, or regular coconut water.
You can also include higher-carbohydrate drinks like juice, or tea sweetened with honey to get your carb-fix. This is especially helpful for those who might get a little too nervous for big meals!
Carbohydrates. We don't usually say this: go for the white and refined stuff like white bread, rice, and pasta. Complex carbohydrates are built to help you feel full–not something you want when you plan to glide like a gazelle across the finish line.
If pasta and bread don't do it for you, here are some other options:
- Sweet potatoes
- Spaghetti squash
- Gluten-free bread
- White rice pasta
Veggies. Go for easy-to-digest veggies that are lightly steamed. This will help to keep you from feeling boated or gassy during the race. Avoiding cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage to reduce gas too.
Protein. You can skip the big steak dinner, and opt for some lean chicken or a some grilled fish. Both chicken and fish will digest better than heartier cuts of meat.
Here are a few meal examples:
- Pasta with tomato sauce and lean turkey meat balls, plus steamed spinach on top
- Chicken and vegetable stir fry with white rice or rice noodles
- Pancakes! Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?
Since the BMO Marathon starts at 8:30 am, you'll need to get up bright and early to get in some good pre-race fuel. We suggest eating by 6:30 am at the latest.
Stick with foods and liquids that you know work well for you, and won't sit in your stomach for hours.
Here are a few options:
- 2/3 cup cooked oatmeal with 1 tbsp maple syrup and a banana or some berries
- Two pieces of toast with peanut butter
- Yogurt, a banana, and toast
If you can't eat before the race, try out a sports drink like GU Roctane Energy Drink Mix. And if you already know that you won't have time, or get the race day nerves, be sure to fuel the day before!
During your race:
Energy gels: Since these are high in sugar, try to chase these with water and consume it over the course of a few minutes.
Energy chews: Similar to gels, these are quite high in sugar. So consume slowly, and try to include water.
After your race:
You just ran, a lot. And you need to refuel with food that will help to repair, and replenish your glycogen stores.
Some ideas are:
- Recovery drinks like Bio Steele's Advanced Recovery Formula
- Eggs and toast
- Protein Bars