I know many of you are curious as to how to fuel for an evening or late race. They are unique experiences. Everything is new from your running, weather, hunger, and stride.
Running a night time race is a little different from running those crack of dawn early races. I have had the chance to run both. How you fuel for ANY race is important. Being that everyone tolerates foods differently when it comes to racing, here are my tips to fueling for a night race.
First off, if possible, run at the same time to simulate running conditions. Night time races have lots of changes in weather conditions which obviously affect your performance. Running at the expected conditions before the race can prepare you for what coming ahead.
Tapering. Some of you hate it, while others enjoy the time off from training. But you know what? It’s important. It’s the time needed for your muscles to recover and be fully charged for your race.
Carbo it up! Eating food high in carbohydrates is much needed for runners. That is what will fuel us through the race. Our muscles need to turn it into energy to keep us going the distance! While most runners who straight for the pasta, eating grains, and vegetables are a better choice.
I also suggest eating a normal pre race meal the night before as if you were running a morning race. Remember that fueling for any races, takes day. You can’t expect to get everything you need moments for the race starts. I suggest you eat properly the week of a long distance race to prep you for it. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember…DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!!! Eating something you have never had can certainly be risky. Some of us runners have delicate stomachs and feeding it something new it isn’t happy with can call for disaster on race day.
Hydration. I can’t stress how important this is!!! Being well hydrated for a race is vital! No matter the distance! We need the fluids to keep us going. Whether its water, sports drink, or coconut water, keep drinking!!!
Eating. I know that for me, no matter how many times I have lined up to the start line of races, the nerves are always present. I usually can’t eat hours before a race, the butterflies in my stomach aren’t having it! That is one thing that makes night time races extra nerve-racking for me, because I spend the whole day thinking about it LOL The best thing to do, is to eat a nice BIG breakfast. Make sure its a little bigger than normal with the needed carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
A little bit of each where you have a well-balanced meal with the nutrients you need will be great. Just make sure to stay away from high in fiber foods (some fruits and vegetables are) to avoid an upset stomach. Doing a mock pre race meal during your training can help you find out which foods work best for you without giving you that full feeling but enough to keep you going.
Lunch time! I know some races start at around 6 p.m. and up. Like the Wine and Dine Half starts at 10 p.m. you would still need to continue keeping your fuel levels up. By lunch time some of you might not be hungry or the nerves are starting to set in. Eating something light like a bagel, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich will suffice. Especially if your race starts at 7 p.m. You are giving yourself around 5 hours or so to digest your meal.
Some runners, like Alpha don’t have a problem consuming food, in which you can eat a normal breakfast, a loaded carbo session(pasta) around noon-ish, then something light like a bagel or banana later on to curb that pre race hunger.
Make sure that throughout the race day, you continue to hydrate, with meals and in between meals. As far as what to drink, use what you drank during your training. Find what works best for you.
If you are prone to a sensitive stomach and can’t really eat much through out the day, make sure you fuel up sooner than you would. Don’t “over drink” so close to start time to avoid feeling like a running balloon of water.
Eating a snack like a power/protein bar can help ease your stomach. I really do recommend doing a race day mock up as to that can help ease you on the actual day.
One perk of doing a night time race is you can sleep in! WOO-HOO! You won’t risk missing your alarm, or lack of sleep 😉 Trust your training, be smart about your fueling, and you’ll start off the race on the right foot!