Pre-Run Nutrition

Bryan Holladay
Racing expert
Bryan Holladay
More from this author
Bryan Holladay
More from this author

“The key to a strong finish is a strong start.”

No matter the distance of your race, being properly fueled and hydrated at the starting line is integral to a successful race. There are some basic hydration and fueling strategies, that if you’re not already doing, will definitely help you in your preparation for race day.

To start, aim to take in 16-24 oz of fluid, ideally an electrolyte drink, 2-3 hours before your race. This will ensure you’re well hydrated at the starting line with plenty of time to make a few trips to the restroom.

In regards to energy, your body generally stores enough of it, in the form of glycogen, to keep you fueled for runs up to 60 minutes. Running in the morning on an empty stomach, however, complicates things as you will be running after an overnight fast and energy stores, specifically liver glycogen, will be depleted. So, if your stomach can handle it in the early morning, eat 100-160 calories (25-40 g) of easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., one banana) 30-60 minutes before your run. And if you have more time, plan on consuming 300-400 calories 2-3 hours before your race; this meal can contain a mixture of complex and simple carbs, but also a little protein and fat (e.g. oatmeal w/ banana, almond butter and maple syrup).

Pre-Run Break Down

– 16-24 oz of fluid, ideally an electrolyte drink, 2-3 hours before your race

– 100 – 160 calories of easily digestible carbs 30-60 minutes before running early mornings

– 300-400 calories, 2-3 hours before your race

These preliminary steps will ensure your body is properly hydrated and fueled at the start of your race.

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