Best Foods for Runners before a Race

By , Erik V., SparkPeople Contributor

You're preparing for your race when hunger suddenly strikes, but after months of training you're worried that a meal will slow you down during the big event. Trainers and friends give conflicting advice on what to eat, but your stomach is rumbling louder than they are. Luckily, there are tasty foods that you can eat before a race that will keep you full without harming your performance. In fact, these top foods will help you to harness all of your power during the race! First, let's look at the general timeframe of your pre-run meals before getting into the specific foods.

Two Days Before the Race

You'll want to load as many carbs as possible two days before your big race. While some people do this the night before their race, this can lead to still being full the next morning. Plus, your big meal may cause you to use the restroom more than usual, which is obviously a problem on the course. By having a large pasta dish or other carb-filled dinner two days beforehand, your body will have plenty of energy stored for the race without the lagging fullness.

Pre-Race Meal

Your meal before the race should be something familiar so that you don't run into any problems. Have some oatmeal with blueberries along with your usual coffee, tea, or other light breakfast drink. You want to have this meal roughly three hours before the race, and then supplement with an energy bar beforehand if you're still hungry. 

Race Fuel Ideas

Don't try any new gimmicks or supplements before running your race; instead, have what you know so that you can be confident while focusing on the run. Now let's look at the best foods to have in the days and hours leading up to your race!

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

This sandwich may seem like a boring throwback to childhood, but it's actually the perfect pre-run meal! Bananas provide potassium plus a high water content to ensure that your muscles stay hydrated while you run. Peanut butter contains protein plus slow-release carbs so that you avoid hunger pains while also minimizing extreme fullness. The style of bread depends on your preferences, but whole wheat will provide enough carbs to help you gain energy without too much extra weight. Similar to this, you can also try a peanut butter and banana shake if you are looking for something a bit different.

Bagel with Salmon and Cream Cheese

A toasted bagel provides ample carbs to keep you full, and a bagel topped with sunflower seeds provides an additional protein punch. Salmon contains omega fatty acids that can improve your cholesterol over time while also improving your mood rather quickly. Plus, salmon helps your overall cardio output by aiding your heart's valves. Both cream cheese and salmon contain immense amounts of protein plus essential minerals to ensure a strong power output during your race.

Tomato and Kale Salad

A salad can be a great snack throughout the day as long as you avoid overly fattening dressings. Add some kale to reduce inflammation and try tomatoes to get helpful and energy-packed vitamins such as B6. You can also add some chicken breast or salmon into the salad for some extra protein.

Choose these foods to maximize your pre-race meal, and you can rest assured that you're setting yourself up for victory. Eat slowly, enjoy the meal, and you'll be prepared for the big race!