Pre-Competition Meals for Runners
Any long-distance runner is no doubt aware of the importance of eating an optimal pre-competition meal. Your pre-competition meal has three purposes: to keep you from feeling hungry during your race, to keep your muscles fueled, and to maintain your blood sugar.
Ideally, you should eat about 3 hours before you compete. You do not want to compete on a completely full or completely empty stomach. If your race starts in the early morning, be sure to eat your pre-competition meal for dinner the night before and have only a snack or light meal for breakfast. If you’re competing in the afternoon, eat your pre-competition meal for breakfast and have a light but carb-rich lunch. For evening events, eat your pre-competition meal for lunch (but have a hearty breakfast as well), then have a light snack for dinner.
You’re going to focus your meal on complex carbohydrates. Where simple sugar is just “empty” calories, complex carbohydrates provide the energy of sugar plus important nutrients. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are whole wheat bread, grains (oatmeal, cereal), and beans. Although you want to eat complex carb-heavy, you still want to ensure that you’re getting a balanced meal—limit your carbs to just 60% of your pre-race meal. Also, the two most important things to avoid before you compete are caffeine and sugar, which will actually make you feel fatigued in the “long run” (ha ha!). You should also note that protein-rich foods can actually increase your need to urinate during competition and take longer to digest.
Don’t forget to hydrate as well. You’ll know when you are properly hydrated when your urine is a very pale, almost clear yellow. With a proper pre-competition meal and hydration, you’ll take full advantage of the expert coaching your received from your MP3 running tracks on race day.