minutes per mile blog

what do you eat before a race?


My legs feel like giant tree trunks today… a sign of a good race! My morning workout was lifting the coffee pot and opening a bag of animal crackers. Exhausting :)1-_DSC0004FYI the Whole Foods 365 Organic animal cookies are probably my favorite so far – someone on the internet even loved them enough to post a full review!

Since I don’t have any running stories for you today, we can add on to the marathon story. One thing I get asked sometimes is what I eat/drink before a race.

I usually keep it pretty classic with some sort of pasta. For this race, Anthony and I made our favorite pesto dish!1-_DSC0018My dinner photography craze has inspired Anthony to get really creative with the “presentation” and do things like dabble sauces on the side of the plate. What a masterpiece.2-_DSC0020Simple salad on the side.3-_DSC0022Regarding hydration, I try to drink a ton of water for 2-3 days before the race. Though many runners cut out alcohol, I clearly don’t… in fact, I think a drink or two the night before helps me de-stress and sleep well. Which is why Anthony and I kicked off dinner by stopping by Guajillo! :)4-DSC03751And the morning of the race? Coffee with a couple pieces of buttered cinnamon-raisin toast. The end.

I think pre-race food and drink is definitely something that’s different for everyone. It’s a trial-and-error process that usually results in a list of foods you know you shouldn’t eat before a long run and a few foods that seem to work pretty well.

For example, I’ve learned that peanut butter, cheese, Mexican food :(, and nuts do not sit well with me before a race/long run. Other runners I’ve talked to avoid dairy and oily and high-fiber foods the day before. Some people eat nothing the morning of the race; some people eat eggs and toast; some people eat Cliff bars; a lot of people eat bagels, bananas, and peanut butter. It’s different for everyone!

The “experts” here, here, and here all give pretty solid advice: don’t try any new foods before the race; lightly load up on carbs; and stay hydrated.

So go drink some water (or beer) and have a great day.

  • What do you eat before a race?
  • Do you care about the presentation of your food?
  • What was the BEST THING you did all weekend?

Of interest:


8 thoughts on “what do you eat before a race?

  1. Animal crackers and coffee sounds like the best combination ever! I am taking a mental note! I am a Clif bar fan and I eat one of the caffeinated ones and drink a 12oz bottle of Zico coconut water before I race. I got the Clif bar idea from Skinny Runner’s blog and it has always worked!

  2. I def. shouldn’t read your blog during breakfast – all the food pics you take looks so good! How do you fuel during a race? I’ve been taking GU (half a pack) every 3.5-4 miles. I’m thinking I should eat a little something substantial. I was losing steam after mile 21.

  3. Hmm… also one of those things that’s different for everyone. I know some people who eat “real food” during races (pretzels, granola bars, trail mix) but I don’t think I could stomach it.

    I used to really skimp out on Gu/gatorade/water but per my coach’s advice, I’ve started taking fuel more seriously. Before the race I had coffee, toast, water, and a bit of Gatorade; during the race I took Gatorade at every stop and had Gu at miles 7, 13, and 19. Seemed to work for me, but who knows what works best for you.

    A good rule of thumb IMO is to take a Gu every 45-55 minutes… which it seems like you did (by doing half-packs). Maybe you are one of those people who needs real food?

  4. I think that pasta with tomato sauce is quickly going on my ‘do not eat’ list. Typically I have some form of pasta the night before – or Ikea swedish meatballs! In the morning, it is a banana, oatmeal and sports drink/water.

    • haha yes, coffee is one of those have-to-have or absolutely-cannot-have among runners it seems. same with pb.