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Fuel Your Run: Nutrition for Training and Racing

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Two Weeks Out

Some nutritional principles to keep in mind as race day approaches:

  • Start adding more complex carbohydrates to your diet. Complex carbohydrates, found in all plant-based foods, take longer for the body to digest than simple ones and are available as stored energy for use when needed. Whole-grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and vegetables are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
  • Drink lots of water. Being even slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling sluggish, so make sure you're getting plenty of fluids. There's no need to worry about exact measurements, but it's a good idea to keep a water bottle with you during the day so you can drink frequently. During long training runs, you should drink water every 20-30 minutes or more often as needed.
  • Be an iron-woman. A woman who doesn't get enough iron may become anemic and feel tired and weak; she also could be more susceptible to infection. To avoid getting depleted, increase your iron intake: lean red meats and leafy greens are good sources. Lisa C. Cohn, president of Park Avenue Nutrition in New York City, says you can also find iron in blackstrap molasses, gingersnaps, and chia seeds, available at most health food stores.

Three to Four Days Before the Race

  • Emphasize carbs for energy. Your diet should consist of about 70 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fats, and 10 percent protein.
  • Increase consumption of complex carbohydrates. Carbs will give your muscles and brain the fuel they need to get through the race. Most women tend to load up on familiar sources like pasta and rice, but Cohn suggests considering complex carb sources like tabouleh, oatmeal, and other whole grains.

The Night Before

  • Don't experiment. While we all love to try new foods and taste new flavors, it's best to stick with what's familiar and what works for you the night before the race. If you had marinara sauce the night before your last successful long training run, don't try something heavy and different on this night. A new food or spice could upset your stomach or leave you feeling "off."
  • Eat a nutritious meal composed of whole grains (whole wheat pasta or brown rice); grilled or steamed vegetables or a salad (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and light dressing); and a small amount of protein such as grilled chicken, fish, or lean red meat. Again, stick with what's familiar: If you've found that too much fiber was problematic for you on your training days, then you may want to eat a white-flour (not whole-grain) carb source.
  • Continue drinking water.

Next:  Race Day


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Jamiewins2 wrote:

I just drop a gel in my arm pocket ( and eat 1 since thats about all I can handle, it seams any more doesnt dgiest.

9/27/2012 01:51:46 PM Report Abuse
coburndangela5 wrote:

Im a little confused about what to eat if Im not able to eat the whole grains...we are following a Paleo diet due to autoimmune diseases. Whats the best source of carbs if we cannot have the grains?

3/10/2012 08:43:07 AM Report Abuse
heather.l.mereness wrote:

I really like to eat 4-6 pieces of sushi before I leave home & then a bananna on the way to the race. The sushi sits well on my stomach & is very healthy especially if you get the brown rice sushi.

10/13/2010 08:33:48 AM Report Abuse
anbay3 wrote:

Goo works great!

10/7/2010 10:18:58 AM Report Abuse
schonbie wrote:

I have a banana about an hour before exercise.

10/7/2010 10:12:44 AM Report Abuse

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