What to eat for your half marathon in < 500 words
The day of the half-marathon you signed up for has you thinking, what should I eat on race day?
Great question! However, it’s actually more important to be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking in the days leading up to race day.
What you eat the morning of race day should be practiced in advance. My clients and athletes learn through our coaching sessions that the meals and snacks consumed leading up to the event have a greater influence on performance than the meal on the day of.
You can’t expect to race at your best on the morning fuel along. You’ll have to plan ahead with balanced meals using my plate method. For additional ideas, check out my meal and snack guidance which also explains my “4-2-1” method. In the days leading up to your race prioritize plenty of lean protein and complex carbohydrates to provide you with the fuel you need.
You can’t race like a beast if you eat like a bird (additional snack ideas!
Example meal and snacks included on the days leading up to your half marathon:
- Whole-grain chicken wrap with beans, spinach, tomato, mashed avocado or hummus, and fruit
- Greek yogurt fruit toast (see my recipe)
- Oatmeal with yogurt, whole-grain muffin, and peanut butter with banana slices
- Roasted sweet potato with lean ground turkey in a whole grain wrap with hummus and raspberries
- Whole-grain crackers with carrot sticks, and hummus
- Whole-grain rice bowl with grilled shrimp or 3 oz of salmon tossed in roasted broccoli with diced avocado and fresh fruit
Make sure you’re hydrating properly as well. Consume at least 16 oz of water every three to four hours for 48 to 72 hours prior to your race.
NO NEW FOODS ON RACE DAY! PRACTICE FOODS BEFOREHAND ! 😊
What to eat and when to eat on the morning of my race?
Two hours before your race consume carbohydrates paired with a little protein. You want to limit fat and fiber because of the digestion time required for fat and the distress from fiber that could occur during your run.
Breakfast Ideas to Consume 2 hours Pre-Race:
- 1-2 rice cakes + ½ tbsp honey + ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- Kodiak Cakes muffin or oatmeal cup
- Bagel + kiwi slices + string cheese
- Gel or sports drink + grapes
- Oatmeal + egg whites or non-fat milk
- Watermelon, grapes, orange slices, or any fruit
- 1-2 slices of toast + Greek yogurt
- Cereal + non-fat milk
- Overnight oats
- 100 % fruit bar or dried fruit
- Apple sauce packets or honey
- Tart cherry juice or watermelon juice
You don’t want to eat too much for breakfast. Ideally, it would be better to eat a little bit more for dinner and an evening snack of maybe a power cup muffin the night before. Most feel so excited for race day it is hard to eat anything. But you need feel.
Something is always better than nothing. Even if its just some toast, berries, honey packet, or tart cherry juice you need some carbohydrates before you take off! Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory confirm that honey is one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to eat just before exercise.Honey performs similar to commerical energy gels because of the glucose in gels.
GOOD LUCK and don’t forget to have fun! See the full post on Instagram
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Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN
Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. She is a former cross country runner, college softball player, figure competitor, and avid weight-lifter who still enjoys a good race from time to time. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.