June is track month for most area running clubs. Our spring marathons are behind us. The thermostats are pushing the upper 80s to the 90s. The humidity is so bad that we start sweating just by looking at our running shorts. Running track events are a great chance of pace and can help kick start those legs after all of those grueling marathon miles.
Most of these track events take place during the evening hours. Thus to be ready for my evening workout, I am watching what I eat. Eat too many calories and I am left feeling sluggish. Eat too few calories and I don’t have the energy to perform at my best.
What is the right mix?
Everyone is different so what I am about to say works decently well for me. For someone else, this system may not work at all. So don’t look at this as much as a guide but rather part of your “food” for thought – pun intended.
When I think about my eating plan, I break it in to 3 parts: what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat.
What should I eat?
For my prerace meals, I like to include lots of white bread bagels and some fruit. Both are easy for me to digest and have worked their way through my stomach by race time. They also keep my blood sugar level even and reduce my urges to consume lots of sugary foods. Staying way from foods like meats is also at the top of my list. Meats take a long time to digest. For most runners, this process is a lot of trial and error. Some foods work well for them while others don’t. For example, I can eat a cup of grapes and do a hard tempo with no ill effects. Eat an apple and I will be looking for a rest room with in few miles
When should I eat?
My last meal will usually be about 6 to 7 hours before I run. Personally, I like my stomach to feel empty when I am racing. There is nothing worse to me that the feeling that my stomach is bouncing during my race. Usually, 3 hours out from the event, I will have a very small snack just to maintain my blood sugar levels. Less than 3 hours if I am still feeling the need for something, I will switch to watered down Gatorade or Powerade. I will usually stop this about an hour out from my race.
How much to eat?
How much to eat is a really good question. I prefer to keep the portions small. The faster my stomach clears out the better. Again everyone is different so the amount of the food consume definitely varies per person. I once watched a friend “eat” an entire Subway sandwich two hours before a race and then run an awesome time. I was in awe that he could do it with no ill effect. I also think that you can train your body to handle foods better. Practice makes perfect so before launching into a different prerace meal take time to try out certain foods during your training runs.
Good luck with your prerace diet. The keys to success lie in the details of your planning.
Sharing on thought at time
The cool Down Runner