There are an endless number of foods/drinks that people eat the morning before a race. Many people believe that carb-loading the night before the race and having a small breakfast the morning of is the way to properly maintain themselves before the race.
Others believe that having a balanced meal the night before that isn’t too heavy, and having a fairly large meal at breakfast is the better option. Still others have a light meal at night and eat nothing the morning of.
Everyone digests food in a different way and therefore stomach things just before the race in a very different way. Typically before I race our nerves make our stomach much more sensitive as well and we are unable to eat as much as we usually can or would like to.
Below I have compiled a list of the 10 most common foods/drinks consumed as “Breakfast” the morning of the race. I have also included one or two benefits of each food as well as a down-side if there is one…
Banana– Usually the biggest go-to food for runners. Bananas are incredibly easy to digest and provide you with natural sugar, magnesium and potassium that are necessary to have a good race. Increasing you’re electrolytes before the race is a good thing. Replenishing before the race decreases the chances that your body will run on empty during the race.
Peanut Butter w/ toast or bagel– Peanut butter is also a highly consumed food before races. PB leaves you feeling full much sooner than most other fats and require you to consume much less food to feel satisfied. One of the worst things you can do before a race is run on a full and bloated stomach. Because PB is made of fat, fiber and protein, it releases energy in much slower amounts and therefore sustains you the entire duration of the race.
Rolled Oats or Oatmeal– This is a meal full of carbohydrates and fiber that are slowly turned into simple sugars. The sugar then is converted into energy and used during the race. Though this is a very popular meal, people often consume oatmeal much too soon before the race and never feel the full benefits of the oatmeal. Allow several hours to digest this food before the race so that your body has time to convert the nutrients to sugar.
Energy Bar– Many of these bars contain high amounts of carbohydrates and can be eaten just shortly before the race and are usually very easy to digest. These bars often contain levels of sodium, potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and caffeine that also help sustain the runner during the race. Energy bars also come in endless flavors so there is usually at least one bar that will cater to each runners individual needs/preferences.
Energy Gels– Also a very good food to consume just before the race. Most energy gels can be consumed up to 5 minutes before the race and can be incredibly easy to stomach. Most have different textures and flavors so the runners preferences can usually be met. Energy gels provide the necessary amino acids, sodium and potentially caffeine that are necessary for a runner just before the race.
Potatoes– This seems a little odd but it’s actually very common to eat before a race! Potatoes give you high amounts of carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B that are all very beneficial to having a good race. They are also incredibly easy to consume, even for the weakest of stomach’s before a race. However, it is necessary to get the right kind of potatoes as they can take a while to digest. Gluten-free potatoes are the most easily digested, but plan to give yourself a few hours before the race just to be safe!
Grains– This seems a bit general but the most commonly eaten grains include: quinoa, farro, amaranth, teff, polenta/cornmeal, and millet. These foods are incredibly overlooked, however, they have been incredibly successful foods for the most talented runners. It has been reported that 70% of all foods consumed by the best kenyan runners include these listed grains.!
Coffee– It has been proven that coffee boosts performance. It gives you the caffeine boost that is often necessary for races and has drastically improved people’s races. However, coffee is also a diuretic and can sit very poorly in peoples’ stomach’s. If you want to drink coffee before a race, try it before a workout first. You need to know going into the race that you won’t have an accident in your pants!
Beet Juice– This is one of the rapidly growing trends in the running world. Though beet juice doesn’t taste the greatest, it has been widely proven that performance increases after taking beet juice. One such study at the University of Exeter showed that endurance was boosted 16% after drinking beet juice! This “drink” is filled with nitrates necessary for muscle contraction and oxygen consumption, ultimately lowering the chance of getting lactic acid mid-race (i.e the dead leg feeling 2/3rds into the race).
Fruit Smoothie– Fruit tends to also be an incredibly easy food to get down even with a queasy stomach. Fruits give you the necessary Vitamins for proper body function as well as natural sugars that can be used for an extra “boost” during the race. Many fruits, however, are highly acidic and can be detrimental to performance unless given time to properly digest.