Proper nutrition during training is just as important as your weekend long run for a strong race performance. But all your healthy salmon and spinach dinners won’t mean a thing if you fall off the wagon just before the race.
Poor pre-race nutrition choices can leave you feeling ill, groggy, or exhausted on race day—all things that can spoil your performance. Don’t make these rookie mistakes at your next big race.
More: 8 Common Nutrition Mistakes...and How to Fix Them
A well-hydrated runner is more alert, stays cooler, and needs less ﬂuids during a race. But many runners love their beer and coffee. Especially at big races, it’s tempting to celebrate the night before with fellow runners and a few brews, some salty beer nuts, and wake up the next morning in desperate need of coffee.
When it comes to an important race, do right by yourself and replace some of that beer and coffee with water. Don’t just dump two 20-oz. bottles of Gatorade down your throat ten minutes before you hit the starting line. Concentrate on staying hydrated for one or two days before the race, to ensure your body is ready.
More: Hydration Tips for Better Athletic Performance
I once ran a 10K on the morning of January 1. The night before the race, I celebrated with friends and stuffed my face. I thought this would give me plenty of energy for the race, but it also gave me some stomach misery. I achieved a PR that day—because I was racing for the bathroom.
Eating too much pre-race food is a big blunder because your body may not have enough time to eliminate everything before gun time. Since running stimulates your bowels, you might ﬁnd yourself in a very uncomfortable situation. Have a good pre-race dinner, but don’t overeat.
More: The Evolving Art of Carbo-Loading