Do you have a pre race eating routine that you stick to for each race? Or have you not found the perfect meal(s) to fuel your body to compete at your maximum effort? Switching up your eating routine can be tricky come race time due to creating GI issues. Therefore, you should implement these healthy options into your routine early on in your training.
Training for a marathon is a full time job and nutrition plays a crucial role in allowing you to run at your peak level. I like to compare one's eating routine to putting gas in a car- if you have a full tank you will make it far; however, if you only have half a tank of gas, you will only make it so far.
Why carb load? In order to fuel your muscles for those long runs and race day, you must increase your glycogen stores to fuel the muscles. What the heck does that mean? Carbohydrates are readily broken down into glucose, which is the body's main source of energy. Glucose can be used immediately as energy or can be sent to the liver and muscles and stored as glycogen. Therefore, when running your race, the stored muscle glycogen is converted back into glucose which your muscles will use as fuel. Long story short, the carbohydrates will help delay fatigue and "hitting the wall" as many runners would say.
You never want to add any unfamiliar foods to your eating routine the week leading up to your race to prevent potential GI issues. Experiment with a high carb meal the night before a long run (try to run at the same time as race day). This will allow you to see how you tolerate the meal, if it gave you the necessary energy you need, and if any stomach issues occurred.
With carbohydrates being essential leading up to race day, a little protein and fat will help create fullness and help prevent muscle breakdown. If you are like me and get a little anxious the morning of a race, try to eat extra calories before you go to bed the night before the race.
Example meals and snacks:
1) Whole wheat pasta, chicken, and broccoli (my favorite)
2) Oatmeal with peanut butter or milk topped with almonds and granola
3) Whole wheat pancakes topped with almond or peanut butter and sliced bananas
4) Bagel with peanut butter
5) Rice with salmon and veggies
6) Whole grain crackers and low fat string cheese
7) Whole wheat bread with eggs and spinach
Fuel your body, race with heart, and enjoy every moment!!