I have a particularly sensitive stomach. I can’t handle too much in there digesting away if I’m going to go out and run. My favorite time to run is first thing in the morning for just this reason. Yes, I know you shouldn’t run on an empty stomach and if I were actually training for something I’d be smart and wake up earlier to have something light for energy. I used to go the oatmeal route and that worked well for me before workouts.
But now that I’m not competing I just eat a big snack before I go to bed and that tides me over. I also like being able to just roll out of bed and into the shoes. I loved morning races not only because they made figuring out what and when to eat all the easier but also they were done first thing and I didn’t have to sit around all day with me, myself, and nerves.
Still, not everyone works out in the morning and races aren’t always going off in the morning hours either. With track season coming up, 99% of the time you’ll have an afternoon or later gun time. Track throws another monkey into the mix because you could be doubling, tripling, quadrupling…hopefully you aren’t doing any more than that, but you get the picture. In order to perform to your best you need to fuel your body with the energy it needs, but at the same time you want it to sit well in your stomach. You want to eat for performance.
You can read the article I did printed in January’s Running Times, ‘Timing Your Fuel’, for some pointers on the best way to go about creating a meal plan that works in accordance with your race time. Spoiler alert: you probably won’t want to wolf down those four chili-cheese dogs.
The thing with race day is you always want to limit the variables: don’t wear a new pair of shoes, eat things you KNOW will sit well, eat at the same times, warm-up at the same times, do the same warm-up routine and drills. Practice and workouts are the times when you test new things out and play around until you find what works for you.
Eating the right foods, as with training and warming-up, is unique to each person so go in with a plan in these areas just as you do a race plan.
1) What’s your favorite time to run and race?
2) What are you pre-race picks? Do you have anything in particular you HAVE to have right before?
I know it’s not nutritionally the best pick, but during high school I’d have to have two strawberry frosted Pop-Tarts…even packed them with me when I traveled to Italy.
3) Do you have a finicky stomach or are you one of those lucky individuals who could wolf down the chili-cheese hot dogs and not taste them a second time through?