Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Mark Remy
Remy’s World offers some actual, useful information.
Readers, today’s topic is a relatively serious one. Not serious as in “heavy” or “profound” or “sit down, we need to talk.” Just serious as in “I’ll keep the dumb jokes to a minimum” and “Lord help me, some runners might actually learn something from this.” (I know. Sorry.)
Today’s topic is about prerace nutrition, and it comes to us via a friend of a friend, who asked me in an email:
I’m running my first half-marathon this weekend. Any advice as to what to eat the night before … ? I’m excited and nervous!
This is a question that we RW editor types get quite often, through emails or Facebook messages, or in person at race expos and so on. By my estimation, I myself have answered it at least 3 million times. So I thought that this time I would answer it here, as a public service.
First of all: The question itself is a perfectly natural one. (Which is why we hear it so often.) As race day approaches, anxiety levels go from “normal” to “medium-high” to “I Am on the Outermost Edge of the Grand Canyon Skywalk and I’m Pretty Sure the Whole Structure Is Beginning to Come Loose.” So many variables are out of our control — travel snafus, stomach bugs, the weather, that nagging pain in our left calf, even, at this late stage, our training. What can we control, totally and completely? Our diet. What we eat and drink, and what we do not.
And so that is where we focus our attention.
Should I “carbo-load” the night before? How many grams of protein should I get? Is it OK to have a beer? Should I avoid fiber? WHAT SHOULD I EAT THE NIGHT BEFORE?!?
The answer, as suggested by the stock image above: The night before a half-marathon, you should eat a plateful of colorful notes with question marks on them.
Ha ha. Just kidding.
No, the answer is really, stupendously, forehead-smackingly simple:
The night before a long race, eat whatever you would normally eat the night before a long run.
And… That’s it. End of story.
In practical terms, here is how this advice looks:
Q: The night before my long runs, I’ve been eating a little pasta with some fish and vegetables. What should I eat the night before my race?
A: Have a little pasta with some fish and vegetables.
Q: The night before my long runs, I’ve been eating a few slices of pizza and washing it down with a nice pale ale. What should I eat the night before my race?
A: Have a few slices of pizza and a nice pale ale.
Q: The night before my long runs, I’ve been eating nails, because that is how tough I am. What should I eat the night before my race?
A: Get out of here. Didn’t I say we’d be keeping the dumb jokes to a minimum?
You get the idea. In essence, this advice posits that a long race is basically a long run, only faster and with more spectators. Therefore, your pre-long race meal should = your pre-long run meal.
See? Easy. Now you can take all that diet anxiety and shift it onto something else. Like…
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?!?
Happy racing, everyone. And happy eating.