What Pro Runners Really Eat Before a Big Race

As the "Let's Do This Boston" video says, most runners have a pre-race ritual, and that includes what they eat the night before a race or long run.

We asked some elite athletes and running pros to share exactly what's on their dinner plate because just maybe, if we eat like them, we'll be inspired to run like them, too.

Kara Goucher: "I either get pasta with red meat sauce or rice, veggies and chicken or fish. I just like to cap off my carbohydrate stores and get a little protein. I never want to eat anything 'risky.' I just eat something simple that I have had many times before that I know my stomach can handle."

More: 3 Marathon Lessons From Kara Goucher

Deena Kastor: "I feel like when you're racing in a variety of cities, you have to be a little open minded, but if I can get hands on a nice piece of salmon and some pesto pasta, that would be ideal for me. I really love fresh bread also, so if I could have some fresh bread and butter before my meal, and usually a glass of Pinot Noir with that. Besides enjoying wine itself, for me, having a glass is two-fold: it helps me go to sleep the night before the race and also it's just a way to celebrate the build up and the preparation and the event itself, by honoring this last good meal to carry me through the distance."

Sara Hall: "I typically eat many small meals throughout the day, so my dinner isn't a massive portion. I like to have about six ounces of lean protein like chicken (as long as I know it's safe, otherwise I will just have a scoop of Muscle Milk) and a cup of rice or pasta with some olive oil and parmesan cheese (just a little as I limit dairy the day before). I don't eat vegetables because I don't want to have a lot of fiber in my gut both for weight and for risk of needing to go to the bathroom or stomach upset. Before bed I'll have half a bagel with some almond butter and honey on it."

More: 4 Marathon Fuel Mistakes to Avoid

Juli Benson, Olympian, coach and Universal Sports commentator: "I keep it simple and routine: six ounces of meat, one to two servings of rice and a serving of fresh berries is a meal I like because it leaves me feeling satisfied but not 'stuffed.' The fruit satisfies my sweet tooth so I can splurge with a yummy dessert after the race."

And here's what was served at the Boston Athletic Association pre-race dinner this year:

  • Green salad
  • Penne marinara with fresh Italian herbs
  • Four cheese baked rigatoni with yogurt and pesto
  • Sausage and meatballs
  • Greek pasta salad
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Stonyfield Yogurt
  • Poland Springs Water
  • Sam Adams Beer

Fueling up sounds delicious!

More: The New Rules of Marathon Nutrition Fuel Plan

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About the Author

Bari Lieberman

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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