Every meal is important, but without a doubt there is no meal more important than the one before a race. Choosing the wrong foods, eating too much or too little, or eating at the wrong time can affect your performance and possibly ruin your run. Eating the right pre-race meal at the right time ensures that all your hard training doesn’t go to waste.

On that note – do not try anything new on race day. Be sure to eat foods that you are familiar with and that you know your body responds well to.

Time It Right

Timing is perhaps the most important consideration. The ideal time for a pre-race meal is about 3-4 hours before the race, because it’s early enough to digest and store a large amount of energy (i.e. a large number of calories), yet late enough that this energy won’t be used up by race time.

However, when running a 5km or 10km run it is possible to eat at least 2 hours before the start. For these distances you will eat a slightly smaller portion compared to when eating for a 21km race, but this should be enough to sustain you during your race.

The appropriate size of your pre-race meal depends on two factors: the duration of your race, and the timing of the meal. The longer the race you’re competing in, the larger your pre-race meal should be. The closer your pre-race meal falls to the race start, the smaller it must be.

What To Eat Before A Race?

At least 80 percent of your pre-race meal should come from carbohydrates, with some protein. Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred fuel source and are digested rapidly, while eating small amounts of protein will keep you sustained during the race. Keep your fat and fiber consumption low, as these take longer to digest and can cause bloating and gut disturbances.

5 Foods You Should Eat Before A Race

#1 Toast or a bagel with low fat cream cheese or peanut butter

#2 Futurelife (Use lactose-free milk or a milk alternative such as almond milk if you are sensitive to lactose)

#3 Banana and peanut butter

#4 Oatmeal

#5 Snacks: A handful of dried fruit or rice cakes with honey or jam

Remember to practice your pre-run meal strategy during training to find what works best for YOU.