Fuel Smart For Race Day

RYC Updated

Wouldn’t it be perfect if your energy levels were at their very peak on the big day? Well, they can be! You’ve trained hard for your race, now it’s time to put the icing on the cake. Taper your training and tweak your diet right, you can ‘super-charge’ your muscles to have your ‘greatest’ run ever!

For shorter races like a 10k you really don’t need to worry too much about ‘carbo-loading’. This is more important for races when you’ll be running for over 90 minutes. You’ll just need to look after yourself so get lots of sleep, relax and eat a healthy diet based on slow-release carbohydrates, lean proteins and plenty of fruit and veg. Here are my top tips on what to eat during the week before your 10k event. If you’d like more detailed information, including mealplans and recipes, check out my e-book, FuelSmart for Race Day (£3.99) – you can get it as a pdf on gofasterfood.com, or Amazon.

Top tips to supercharge your 10k

1. Taper and take it easy!
Resist the temptation to run too much this week. Reducing the duration and intensity of your runs in the week before the event means that the muscle glycogen stores used to fuel your long sessions will automatically be stored by your body. You’ve done the groundwork now, the best you can do is rest your muscles, sleep well, eat well and take it easy!

2. Carb-Savvy
Carbohydrates are converted into blood glucose and used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle. Your body can store enough carbohydrate to keep you going for approximately 90 minutes, plenty enough to get you round the 10k. Choosing nutrient-rich, slow-releasing (low to medium GI*) carbohydrates, the less refined the better, will keep your blood sugar levels stable and to help sustain energy for longer. Try this recipe for Hot Oatcakes with Orange-infused Maple Syrup.

3. Don’t over-eat!
Many athletes fall into the trap of eating too many calories, or eating the wrong foods during those critical few days before a race. The last thing you want it to stand on the start line feeling heavy and bloated!  Back away from the chips, crisps, donuts, buttery croissants, creamy pasta meals, cheesy pizzas, lattes – which, whilst often containing carbohydrate, also contain unwanted fats. Sensible choices are oats, basmati rice, pasta with tomato-based sauces, English muffins, wholemeal toast, plenty of fruit and vegetables.

4. Stick to plain and familiar foods
Pre-race nerves can play games with your tummy and the last thing you want is a portaloo stop mid-race! In the three days before your race, you might want to avoid really high fibre and spicy foods, such as lentils, pulses, bran and hot curries, even if you normally include them in your healthy training diet, and avoid unfamiliar foods the night before. Check out this recipe for Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Pancetta & Thyme – it’s a great meal for the night before a race.

5. Snack happy! 
If you feel too nervous to eat a proper meal, try to eat smaller meals and snacks – ‘little and often’. You’ll find plenty of meal plans and recipes for snacks, drinks and meals in FuelSmart for Race Day.

6. Drink, Drink, Drink
You’ll enjoy your race far better if your body is well-hydrated.  Keep a bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the days prior to the event and don’t forget that tea, coffee, squash, smoothies, juicy fruits and fruit juices, even soups, will also boost your fluid intake. Keep checking that your pee is a light straw colour and try not to drink too much alcohol! See Rethink Your Drink.

7. Pre-Race breakfast – don’t overdo it!
With the taper and your pre-race diet you should be feeling like a coiled spring, ready for action! Don’t overeat on race day; you just need to ‘top up the tank’ about 2 hours before the race. Eat what you usually eat before a run in training.

  • Lots of runners swear by my #gofaster porridge with blueberries. If it’s hot, you might prefer some muesli or whole wheat cereal, toast, basically eat whatever you normally eat for breakfast before your runs!
  • Drink 500ml water, or diluted juice as soon as you wake up, or with your pre-race breakfast and sip on a bottle of water on your way to the start, if you like. Don’t drink too much now, or it will be sloshing around in your stomach when you run.
  • Do the pee test – once your urine is light in colour, then you are fully-hydrated.

8. You’re ready for off! Get to the start line and ENJOY THE RACE!
Relax, soak up the atmosphere, pace yourself and have the best time ever! Next week’s post will be on awesome post race recovery meals

If you’d like more information on my Go Faster Food books, check them out on amazon.co.uk or on www.gofasterfood.com.


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