You’re sick of hearing all your friends boasting about the marathon they’re training for or half-marathons they’ve completed. You decide it’s time you run your own 10K. You have some experience running small distances, but you’ve never challenged yourself to any timed running competition. You have figured out a training schedule for how many kilometers you plan to run each week until you reach 10K. The question remains, “What should I be eating during this time?”
The first thing to know, is that the food you eat training and leading up to your 10K will significantly impact your performance. If you compare your body to a car, food is your fuel. A car that is low on fuel, or running on poor quality fuel, will not function as well.
In general, try to stick to eating balanced meals, at regular intervals (every 3 or 4 hours), drinking plenty of water, and avoiding highly processed foods. All of this will help with your motivation and energy levels to allow you to perform better.
The night before – not long to go…
Well done! You’ve made it this far and you are all geared up for your first race. You may be tempted to load up on carbs as this is something you’ve heard that athletes do before big events. Don’t overdo it. Moderation is the key here. Make sure you are adequately hydrated by checking that your urine is the color of straw. There is no need to drink exorbitant amounts of water as it can affect your electrolyte levels. Avoid eating foods that usually make you feel bloated or excessively thirsty. Remember to include carbohydrates (50-75% of your meal). Stick to a moderate amount as consuming too much will make you feel sluggish and tired. Avoid alcohol as this can deplete your glycogen stores. Go with what you know – you can try things out before to see what sort of foods agree with you, and if you are using DayTwo’s recommendations this will help you in selecting which foods will best agree with balancing your blood sugar levels, so that you can wake up feel energetic and ready for your big day!
Morning before – on your marks, get set…
No skipping breakfast today! If you are suddenly hungry mid-race you won’t be able to eat anything. You know your body best, so try running in the morning and test out which foods work best with you pre-race. Your DayTwo recommendations will guide you as to which foods are likely or unlikely to spike your blood sugars. You will want to leave some time before the race for the food to digest, aim to eat 60-90 minutes before. Aim for a mix of carbs and proteins, but include carbohydrates that take longer to digest so that they can carry you through the race. The same rule applies here, as to the night before – don’t try anything new! Stick to the same amount of coffee as you normally drink. There are some of the opinion that consuming coffee before a race can help with performance, but only if you are a regular coffee drinker. Hydration is very important at this stage as well, you can try adding a pinch salt into the water so it is better absorbed. Examples of pre-running breakfasts might be toast with cheese, oatmeal with milk, yogurt and bran flakes – but you will know what works best for you, especially if you are using your personalized nutrition recommendations. It’s unlikely you’ll need to top up during the race if you have had enough food and drink the night and morning before.
After the race – time to rest and recharge…
Be proud of yourself, you’ve completed your first 10K. Give the run the respect it deserves and make sure you hydrate after the race and eat a nourishing meal to replenish any lost glycogen stores. Aim to eat within 30 minutes of finishing the run to minimize any muscle stiffness and soreness and to avoid a sudden surge of hunger.
Good luck on your first 10K and most importantly, remember to have fun!!