The 5 Biggest Pre-Race Fueling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

How you fuel your body those hours prior to an event can really make the difference. I've had phenomenal runs where I felt like I could just run forever. Then there have been some not-so-great ones that led me to start considering taking up another activity.

So many times I was able to trace my progress, good or bad, back to the foods I ate that morning. Pre-event fuel can make or break your success in the event, affect your PR, cause gastrointestinal issues and, well, just make you feel lousy.

Some foods can improve performance while others impair it. The keys to a successful race, and avoiding all of those unfortunate side effects, are choosing the right meals and snacks and eating them at the appropriate times. We want the nutrients to break down efficiently, and do what we need them to do.

It's not rocket science, but there are some great tricks to the trade.

More: The Pre-Race Meal

5 Foods and Habits to Avoid Before a Race

The following are some not-so-great pre-event foods and practices that could prevent you from having a great race.

  1. Nuts: While nuts offer wonderful, healthy fats, we don't want to ingest any high-fat foods prior to the event. Fat takes longer to digest than other nutrients.

You head to the start line, ready to go, but your GI tract has something else in mind. It wants to use energy that could go toward the race to help with digestion. Our bodies have so many functions being implemented. But since we want to use our energy for the event, let's not give our bodies anything else to do—like work on breaking down fat and protein. There's not enough time for the fat to digest fully if you consume it 30 to 60 minutes prior to the race. Let's keep the body focused on the racing task at hand.

More: Dietary Fat and Endurance Athletes

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About the Author

Jennifer Vimbor

Jennifer Vimbor, MS, RD, LDN, is the founder of Nutrition Counseling Services in downtown Chicago. An avid runner, marathoner and triathlete, Jennifer has first-hand knowledge of the nutritional needs of athletes, and has been helping athletes reach their goals since 2003. She was the nutritionist for the New York Runners Only Club, and has worked with Chicago Area Runners Association. Jennifer advises athletes, from novice to professional, in groups and privately. Find Jennifer on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer Vimbor, MS, RD, LDN, is the founder of Nutrition Counseling Services in downtown Chicago. An avid runner, marathoner and triathlete, Jennifer has first-hand knowledge of the nutritional needs of athletes, and has been helping athletes reach their goals since 2003. She was the nutritionist for the New York Runners Only Club, and has worked with Chicago Area Runners Association. Jennifer advises athletes, from novice to professional, in groups and privately. Find Jennifer on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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