and drink before, during
and after a race or intensive training workout can make a big
Learning the best nutritional strategy can improve your race
performance as well as general health.
In the weeks before
This is the time where you need to be investing some time in making
sure you are getting the correct amounts of vital minerals and
vitamins. This will help ward off disastrous infections such as colds
and flu as well as making sure your body is best prepared for what lies
ahead. Having a wide range of healthy food choices in your diet will
help but to be extra certain opt for a multivitamin pill supplement.
Downsize your meals
As you taper your training just before the race you should also taper
your meals. This doesn't mean losing out in quality though just
Eat little and often
Small, frequent meals make it easier to digest and prevent you feeling
bloated, giving you a slow and steady source of energy throughout
Slow burn foods
Choose low glycaemic index foods and foods that promote better glycogen
storage. Carbohydrates eaten with good sources of protein (such as
potatoes with chicken, pasta with omega-3 rich fish and rice with tofu)
are best, giving you longer lasting energy.
Get bottled up
Keeping hydrated throughout training by drinking at least 2 litres of
water per day. This will help flush out toxins and keep your body
working at optimum levels.
Make sure that you eat a good 2-3 hours before training if you are
having a larger meal. This gives your body enough time to convert the
food source into an energy source that you can use to train from. If
you can't eat before training, make sure to take a fluid substitute
drink to keep you going and replenish energy levels soon after you have
During the race or intensive training
Drink every 30 minutes
If your race lasts longer than 30 minutes you'll need to top up lost
fluids at regular points throughout the race. This should be easy with
drinks stations being common place at most long distance races now. If
you prefer your own drinks however it could be a good idea to have
someone to support you who can at regular points around the course hand
you your drink.
Slow down through drink stations
When taking on fluids, especially at the designated drink stations, it
is important to slow down so you can drink without choking or spilling
your drink. Additionally, you’ll find these areas get quite
with drink bottles on the floor and runners darting all over so going
slow will also prevent accidents
The right drink
Water is brilliant on its own but for races over an hour and half you
may need a sports drink for added energy.
On the go energy sources are becoming more advanced these days with
easily transportable bars and small juices you can pack in you running
gear and take with you while you run for those emergencies. However, be
careful to choose ones that suit your body and digestion as some
athletes find they disagree with certain products and this can cause a
loss of performance. To stop yourself from being affected on the day
make sure you try out different types in your training and stick to the
most successful on the actual day
The hard work is done now and if you pushed yourself to the limit your
body will be crying out for some well earned rest! It’s very
important as soon as possible to replenish your fluid losses and
depleted glycogen stores. This is especially important if you expect to
be training the day after as you will need to speed up recovery as
quickly as possible!
Drink, drink, drink!
Start with water as this will be easiest on the stomach and most
needed. For every 0.5 kg of bodyweight lost you'll need to drink 750 ml
of fluid. Drink little and often, every 10 minutes or so. A
way to tell how dehydrated you are, is by the colour of your urine - if
it is a lot darker (dark yellow) than usual you are very dehydrated so
take measure to re-hydrate quickly.
After the first few hours you may find drinking green tea a benefit as
the antioxidants inside it are great for flushing out post exercise
Grab a light snack
Choose a high carbohydrate snack and aim to consume it within an hour
of the race. It doesn't matter whether the snack is solid or liquid
form, you'll have your own preference.
Keep eating healthy later on
After a few hours would be a good time to make sure you can get a good
nutritious meal. This should consist of a form of carbohydrate with
protein to promote faster recovery.
But don't overeat!
Choose your post race meal wisely! Even though you may feel like a fat
rich burger this could hinder your recovery and make you feel more
fatigued and bloated. Stick to healthy and easily digested meals.
for eating on the move:
filled with chicken or tuna
and yogurt drinks
fruit (apples, grapes, bananas, kiwis)
meals to pack for after races:
dishes with tomato sauce or tuna
potatoes with a healthy filling
Gemma Carter who is a fully trained fitness and life coach.
Visit her website at
or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org