I won’t lie: one reason I enjoy running is that it allows me a little more wiggle room with my eating — rather than packing more wiggle on me!
Today’s topic is tried and true pre-race dinners. You know I’m all over any topic that has to do with food!
Our local sushi restaurant, just a couple of miles from our home (how convenient) is our most visited restaurant. Partly because Mr. Judy can get deals for it. Partly because it’s so close. And partly because I love sushi.
For a long time sushi fueled my races, if it was available.
Pizza + Garlic Sticks
And then I ran a half marathon in FL with fellow bloggers. It was a large PR for me and it was fueled by pizza and garlic sticks
Call me superstitious, but most of my halfs since then have also been fueled by pizza and garlic sticks. It’s usually easier to find than sushi. I love pizza and don’t eat it often so it’s a nice treat before a race.
When at Home . . .
I don’t run halfs at home. Never have. Not saying I never will, but it’s fun to explore new places while running a race and I still have a whole lot of states to run in! I don’t run a lot of longer distance races at home, either. Partly because there aren’t many.
So most of these meals are simply what I like to eat before a long run, and training is all about practice — including what you’ll eat the night before your race. You want to eat something you’ve tried out before that you know is usually kind to your stomach, because the night before a race only intensifies the jitters and that can translate to an iffy stomach for some.
- Pierogies. We have eaten these before more long runs than Mr. Judy cares to remember.
- Trader Joes Japanese Style Fried Rice. Even Mr. Judy enjoys this vegetarian dish (even if he still thinks it makes a nice side dish).
- Gnocchi. I don’t do gnocchi as often, but I sure do love it.
- Trader Joes Reduced Guilt Mac n Cheese. I’ve been doing this a bit more often before my long runs, which haven’t really gotten that long yet. Dairy can be difficult for a lot of people to digest, so you have to know your stomach. For a really long time I loved Trader Joes Gluten Free Mac n Cheese. I even wrote to them when they discontinued it. They never replied. 😦
- Breakfast for Dinner. I haven’t actually done this before a half, but it should work well: bagel & lox; omelet, home fries, and some toast; french toast. I’m getting hungry!
- Stromboli + garlic bread. There’s a particular local place I like that delivers. This is just a riff on the pizza + garlic sticks, of course. I haven’t done this in a long time. Maybe it’s time . . .
What Should You Eat Before a Race?
That absolutely could be an entire post on its own. If you’re away from home you should eat something at least similar to what you’ve been eating before your long runs all along. Nothing new on race day (or the night before the race) right? If you’re at home, stick to what you know works for you.
Don’t go crazy with the carbs. Yes, you need more carbs than you normally do, but you don’t need to go overboard — that is more likely to backfire on you than help you. Try to increase the amount of carbs you eat for several days prior to your race.
A little bit of protein and fat are important too. Go easy on the sauces and anything fatty — they’re harder to digest and can cause GI distress “in the long run”. Stick to more easily digestible carbs like rice and potatoes and fruit. Some protein + a baked potato is a good choice in a pinch, too, and is readily available almost everywhere.
You’ll notice that pasta is noticeably missing from my list, with the exception of the Mac n Cheese. In general it doesn’t fill me up and I’m more likely to eat too much of it. While many will caution you to ditch the veggies (too much fiber can cause GI distress), I still enjoy a salad with that pizza and garlic bread. My stomach’s pretty tough, so far, knock on wood.
Talk to me:
Are you a carb loader or a protein fan before long races?
What are your go-to prerace dinners?
Do you think it really makes much difference what you eat before a race?