As if running a marathon was not hard enough. What you do before and even after a big race can have a significant impact; especially if it is the rigorous but fun Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon, or some other Denver marathon. One major factor affecting every racer is determining what exactly to eat before the race begins. After all, that pre-race meal is what a runner relies on for energy and fuel to sustain him or her for the duration of the race.
Regardless of what you decide to eat, keep in mind that anywhere from 70%-80% of the total overall calories need to come from carbohydrates. Protein, while important, is not required as much for in this situation so be sure to monitor your intake. The same can be said for fiber and fat. Because protein, fiber, and fat take up space in your stomach, eating a lot of it would take valuable space that could be used by energy-producing carbohydrates.
The problem many runners have is that the pre-race jitters hinder their usual monstrous appetite. However, neglecting food before a race can be a huge mistake, especially if plan on winning. At the very least, a marathon runner should at least take in a hearty bowl of oatmeal; perhaps with some fresh fruit sprinkled in. Might I recommend bananas for their cramp-reducing potassium? As we all know, a cramp can be devastating during a race.
Speaking of bananas, it ranks as one of the top foods to include in any pre-race meal. The reason being is that a banana is made up of almost entirely carbohydrates with as little as one gram or less of protein. Generally packing in an energy-boosting 25 grams or more of carbohydrates, and seeing as how they already have their own “wrapper,” bananas are an excellent choice, especially for the runner on the go.
If you really want to improve your intake, slice up the banana from above and sprinkle it into a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Just like bananas, oatmeal packs a carbohydrate punch too. For runners looking for a filling breakfast before their big race, nothing can beat a silky soft bowl of oatmeal. Bite for bite, oatmeal is one of the best choices for a substantial racer, and it almost never fails to fill up even the most ravenous racer.
Whether you enjoy alongside your oatmeal, or enjoy it as the main course, a bagel is an awesome pre-race food. Even though a plain bagel has a bland demeanor, the fact still remains that it is loaded with carbohydrates and very little protein. Plus, it’s portable! Bagels make awesome road food; just grab and go! However, because plain bagels can be boring, many racers opt for some kind of spread to amp it up flavor-wise. Cream cheese is always one of the biggest contenders, just be sure that it is a lower-fat version. Excessive fats can put the brakes on any race.
Who could forget the classic runner’s food—the energy bar. These compact and portable little rectangles of nutrients have been a favorite amongst the running community since most have a very high carbohydrate profile, while providing a low-but-adequate amount of other nutrients. Plus, there are so many options to choose from. Generally being located in the cereal aisle of most food stores, runners should have an ample supply of flavors, textures, and tastes.
No time for eating? Perhaps you should drink your meal. A pre-race shake, while sometimes unappealing, is one of the best ways to get the nutrients you need quick, fast, and in a hurry. Take the popular meal-replacement shake, Ensure, for instance. Just one bottle of Ensure provides practically every nutrient a runner would need for peak performance. Nutritionally speaking, shakes are great, but they leave something to be desired in the way of satiety. Most runners find that they are feeling hungry in the middle of the race. With that in mind, it may be best to accompany the shake with something more filling.