SYou’d be surprised at how many people are present at the start line of any long distance race. These stomach-filling carry-alongs don’t just serve as fashion fodder. You can achieve your race-day goals if you have the right fuel.
Do I have to eat during a race, or is that a matter of common sense?
Your race length and your body preferences will determine whether or not a mid-run snack would help. Mid-run food is not necessary if you are running a 5k or 10k.
Albert Matheny, RD and CSCS, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and COO at ARENA Innovation Corp, says that you should exercise for 75 minutes. He explained that this is the time it takes for glycogen to be used up. Your body will burn more carbohydrate faster if you are able to give a higher intensity. If you are racing hard, your body may need to replenish its carbohydrate stores more quickly.
According to Jeff Cunningham (official running coach of BPN), you will need to continue eating after the 75-minute mark.
Okay, so what should I eat in a race?
Cunningham says that quick-digesting, easily digestible carbohydrates, along with a little bit of sodium, are the best options. He explains that quick (or simple!) carbohydrates are easier to digest than complex carbohydrates. This allows your body to use them more efficiently as energy.
You aren’t Matheny says that you can’t replace the calories you’ve consumed or the stored carbs you’ve used as fuel. You only need enough fuel to get you going. He says that you should aim to consume between 100 and 200 calories of quick carbs for each hour of the race. Digestive distress can be caused by consuming more calories at once.
Cunningham says that you should aim to consume 500 to 750 mg of sodium per hour in order to maintain healthy electrolyte balance and hydration. You may need to increase this if the temperature is high.
Where can I find quick carbs or sodium?
It may surprise you, but this is the one time when you won’t want “real” food. Cunningham says that real foods may not provide the energy you require during a race. He explains that real foods require digestion and absorption before they can provide energy. This can lead to GI distress in high-intensity races.
There are many gels, goos, sports drinks, and chews on the market that promise quick energy. Cunningham says that some of the most popular gels are Maurten, GU and PowerGel. These gels typically contain 100 calories per serving, 25g of carbs and 100 mg of sodium. Some products contain caffeine which can provide a welcome boost of energy for the later miles.
Cunningham states that while all of these products contain easy-to-digest carbs, sodium, some will be more palatable than others. Cunningham recommends that you test them all and find the products and brands that work best for you. He recommends that they be tested during training.
Matheny says that the old saying “nothing new on race day” is a good one. Matheny says, “Whatever you’ve eaten consistently during your training runs should be what you eat on race day.” You need to train your body to use fuel efficiently while moving, just as you do for your legs. You’ll also want to find out how your body reacts when you consume a certain product. For example, some people experience cramps if they consume too much fiber or run if they consume additives and chemicals. It’s important to find out if this is true for you. Before race day.
Our top race-day fueling choices
Huma Chia Energy Gel — $30.00
$30 for a 12-pack of variety
Huma is a great alternative to traditional gels that contain dextrose or maltodextrin. Huma, a natural chia seed-based formula, is easier on the stomach. It uses brown rice syrup for carbs. Some runners love the texture of the seeds, which is why they are so popular.
Honey Stinger Energy Chews — $32.00
Box of 12 at $32
Honey Stinger offers some of the finest-tasting honeysinger products if you prefer a chewy over a goo. We love pink lemonade, cherry blossom and cherry blossom. Chews are a great way to spread out your calories. Instead of taking in 100 calories at once, you can take one chew and wait for a while before trying another. You can also stick one in your cheek for a slow, steady intake.
Gu Roctane Energy Gels – $62.00
Box of 24 at $62
Sometimes you just need an extra boost when you are running serious distances (especially if you’re ultra-runners). Gu’s line Roctane Energy Gels include sodium for better hydration and amino acids for happier muscles.
Maurten — $4.00
For a single serving, $3.90
Maurten is a great option for anyone who wants to fuel like the pros. These goos are made with hydrogel technology, which delivers carbs and electrolytes directly to your intestines. This makes it easier to digest larger amounts. The gel also has a thicker consistency. Both non-caffeine and caffeine versions of the product are available.
Ok, now what do you need? Get a glass of water What happens during a race?
It depends. It all depends. She also notes that the race’s length and its location (think climate, terrain, humidity, etc.) are important.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 5-12 ounces of fluids each 15-20 minutes during marathons. Dr. Fruge warns that fluids may be too high if you have a low sweat rate.
A light urine color is usually a good indicator of your hydration. If you are mid-race, you probably aren’t stopping for a pee. And if you do, it’s likely that you’re in a portapotty which makes it difficult to tell. Instead, drink water whenever you feel thirsty. Matheny says that being thirsty can be a sign of dehydration.
What fluids should I drink? Water is usually fine. Dr. Fruge says that water is fine. Electrolyte and sports drinks can make it easier for the body to absorb water. Many are also delicious.
Dr. Fruge says, “Just make sure you read all labels to avoid unnecessary dyes, artificial sweetnesseners and chemicals.”
What to eat and drink Before Race is also important
Cunningham says that breakfast is important for big races and long runs. There will be a variation in how much you eat at breakfast. You should consume 600 to 750 calories for a marathon. Half the amount is likely to be sufficient for a half-marathon.
Cunningham states that you should avoid eating foods high in fat or protein because they can make it difficult to digest. Cunningham suggests eating a meal that has carbohydrates and protein between the ratio of 1 and 2. He recommends a bagel with peanut butter, honey, and banana, as well as a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and peanut butter.
Don’t forget water the night before and the morning after. Cunningham says that you should drink between 20 and 25 ounces of fluids within two hours before the race. He suggests that electrolytes can be added to pre-run refreshments to help boost your hydration.
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