I am doing my 2nd half marathon tomorrow and have been paying a bit closer attention to my nutrition than normal in the run-up to it to make sure I feel tip top going into the weekend. I’m usually able to run for about 2 hours without much of an energy top-up, just a couple of jelly babies or other sweets and some water halfway through. But I do like to raise my carbohydrate intake slightly in the few days before to make sure my muscles are full of glycogen pre-run. I usually have a couple of carbohydrate-rich dinners a few days before as I taper my runs but something lighter like a chicken salad the night before so I don’t feel heavy the next morning.
What works for me won’t work for everybody but here are a few things you can think about before your 13 miles.
- drink plenty of water in the few days before the race – the last thing you want to do is go into the run dehydrated
- drink around 500ml of water the morning of the race with plenty time to go to get your toilet breaks out of the way!
- taper your training the week before and add a little more carbohydrate to your meals – for example adding honey to your porridge or having some brown rice or pasta for lunch
- keep the carbohydrates healthy with complex carbs
- ditch high-fat foods in the run up to events – fat slows down the release of energy from foods, so good to avoid the night before and morning of the race (e.g. choose a tomato-based sauce rather than cream-based for pasta)
- eat some lean protein to keep your muscles healthy – choose chicken, turkey, quinoa and Greek yoghurt
- watch your fibre intake if you are not used to wholegrain foods – they can play havoc with your digestive system on race day
- eat at home if possible – just so you know exactly what is going into your meal
- avoid alcohol in the week before, it will dehydrate you
- eat what you’re used to, enjoy it and go into the race feeling happy, healthy and full of beans!
My night-before meal:
One chicken breast, half an avocado, handful of croutons or sweet potato wedges, combination of grilled peppers/mushrooms/courgette, olives, beetroot, big handful of salad, yoghurt and mustard dressing
Sweet potato wedges are nutritious and delicious! Wash a sweet potato and chop it into wedges, no need to peel. Boil for about 5 minutes until starting to soften, then drain and leave to dry a bit. Meanwhile put some olive oil into a roasting dish and pop into an oven set at 200C. Transfer the softened wedges to the hot roasting dish and sprinkle with whatever seasoning you like. Try just salt and pepper, paprika or I went for cajun spice. Roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until they are good and crispy.