This training cycle I’ve figured out the best race nutrition that works for me. I started with advice from online articles, books, and other runners and tweaked it for what works for me based on my performance at races and long training runs and to make it plant-based. These are the strategies I’m following this week.
- No processed foods. I eat mostly whole foods in general, but I’m especially careful to try to not eat anything that comes in a package during race week. My exceptions are almond milk, pretzels, pasta, and tofu.
- No alcohol. I’m not a big drinker to begin with, so I play it safe and don’t have any alcohol.
- No candy or sugar. My weaknesses are Twizzlers and Swedish Fish (I know–awful!), and I usually have some baked goods in my freezer. For race week, I try to swear them all off. This week I’ll be making cupcakes (chocolate-coconut with coffee buttercream topped with toasted coconut!) for a friend’s birthday, so it’s going to be really tough. I will likely at least taste the frosting and batter–I have to make sure it tastes good, right?
Three Days Before the Race
- Lots of water. I drink a lot of water to begin with, but I’ll be drinking tons.
- Lots of carbs. The things that worked well for me before long training runs were whole-wheat bagels, pasta, and bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, orange juice, and lentils.
- No beans. I’ve learned this training cycle that beans are hard on my digestive system. Home-cooked ones are better, but I’m still going to avoid them prior to the race. I’ll be eating tofu and lentils instead.
- No hard-to-digest veggies. I’m staying away from cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Instead I’ll eat tomatoes, salad greens, mushrooms, spinach, and potatoes, which are very easy for me to digest.
Some typical meals that work well for me include:
- Oats cooked with almond milk, with cocoa powder, stevia, and peanut butter mixed in
- Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
- Baked sweet potato and/or baked sweet potato fries
- Baked potato and/or roasted potatoes
- Lentil soup
- Whole wheat pasta (1-1.5 cup) with steamed spinach and marinara sauce (1/2-3/4 cup), with homemade tofu ricotta or meatless meatballs (I made some this week with lentils and oats.)
- Sauteed portobello mushroom and spinach wrap
- Tofu scramble, mushroom, and spinach wrap
- Mixed green salad with oil and vinegar
- Baked tofu sandwich on whole wheat
- Spanikorizo–brown rice cooked with spinach and Greek seasonings
- Tomatoes–I basically have sliced, raw tomatoes with every lunch and dinner because I love them so much.
For snacks I have bananas, apples, oranges, pretzels, and whole-wheat toast with peanut butter.
Day Before the Race
- Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, banana, and orange juice
- Morning snack: Another bagel with peanut butter and banana
- Lunch: Baked sweet potato, whole wheat toast, and banana
- Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce (I keep the portion of dinner pretty small–not more than 1 cup pasta and 1/2 cup marinara)
- Evening snack: Pretzels or slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or banana
- Drinks: Lots of water with Nuun and mint tea (helps with digestion)
Morning of the Race
- 3 hours before: Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana, 12 ounces water
- One hour before: 8 ounces orange juice
- 15 minutes before: Clif Energy Gel, Salt Stick cap, and a few sips of water
During the Race
- 3 gels at 0:30, 1:15, and 2:00–I plan to walk to talk my last gel since it’s been so hard for me to take it while running.
- Salt Stick cap at 1:15–Because it will be warm and I’m prone to nausea, I’m going to take a second Salt Stick cap halfway through the race.
- Nuun in my handheld and water at stations
After the Race
Whatever I want! 🙂 There will be lots I can snack on at the finish line, like a bagel, fruit cup, potato chips, and pretzels. Because I will stay Downtown to cheer on the marathoners, I will eat a more substantial lunch afterwards.