Best Race Foods for Runners

When preparing for an endurance race, the word of the day is glycogen. Glycogen is to your body as gas is to a car, serving as your long-term energy source for extended exercise.

An ill-prepared endurance athlete can experience glycogen depletion, also called "hitting the wall" or "bonking". Glycogen depletion occurs when all of the body's glycogen (or energy) stores have been almost or completely used up without any type of glycogen consumption.

More: 4 Fully Loaded Meals to Carry You Through Race Day

Foods high in carbohydrates load your body with glycogen, allowing for glycogen stored in the muscles and red blood cells to be released during long-term strenuous exercise.

Pre-race carbo loading include foods such as:


  • Stay away from cream-based sauces.
  • Pair with a substantial protein such as salmon.

More: How to Fuel From Offseason to Race Season

Rice or Quinoa

  • Pair with a quality protein such as fish or chicken breast.

Mid-race consumption is equally important. Replenish your body's glycogen to ensure that there is enough energy to complete your race. This will also aid in the prevention of injury.

Popular mid-race foods include:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

  • Use whole grain bread.

More: 10 Natural Race Food Alternatives

Protein Bars

  • Try different bars throughout training to find what you like best.

Post-race nutrition is often overlooked but is just as important for recovery and glycogen replenishment. A meal post-race is nearly identical to pre-race:

  • Consume a ratio of 4 g carbohydrates to every 1 g of protein
  • Recommended within two hours of finishing your race

More: Recovery Nutrition Guidelines After Hard Exercise

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