If I earned a quarter every time I heard the phrase “carbo-loading” used to describe pre-race nutrition, I’d be up for early retirement. Sure, a certain amount of carbohydrates are needed for energy during a race, but consuming a meal made entirely of pasta and bread the night before race day isn’t your best bet.
Carb-laden meals like pasta and bread are satisfying, but they’re made of mostly simple sugars that burn off quickly and can leave you feeling sluggish. Runners may forget that fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of complex carbs.
Fruits and veggies also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and ﬁber. They provide energy with less calories. They also digest more slowly and thoroughly, which means less waste the next morning.
More: How to Add Frozen Fruits and Veggies to Every Meal
Your jumpy nerves can make it hard to think of food on race day. But as bad as overeating can be, going out there on an empty stomach can be just as detrimental. You’ll go through your energy stores quickly and you may end up hitting a wall.
Your best bet is to have a small meal made up of protein and carbohydrates, one hour or two before the race. My preference is to allow myself an extra few minutes in the morning so I can make a smoothie with some quick-digesting whey protein. Some other options are potassium-rich bananas, a bagel or a PB&J sandwich.
More: 12 Fast and Easy Breakfast Ideas
It’s always good to try out new ways to fuel before and during running. Just don’t do it on race day. Think logically when you’re deciding what to eat right before your race. You wouldn’t wear a brand new pair of running shoes on race day, and the same goes for new foods.
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