Prior to any run it’s important to ensure you’re fuelled and ready to go. We caught up with Ollie Armstrong, resident Physiologist at UB Sport & Fitness, for some helpful hints on what’s best to eat before a race.
As Lead Physiologist at UB Sport & Fitness, Ollie’s day-to-day is ensuring that athletes can consistently perform to their maximum potential, and so whether you’re an experienced runner or considering doing something like the Birmingham Great Run for the first time, one easy way to help perform at your best is to ensure your body is getting the fuel and hydration required during a race, regardless of duration and length. See below for Ollie’s basic tips for nutritional race preparation.
Before the race
‘Prior to your race it’s important to be fresh and raring to go for the big day. The key is to be properly fuelled, hydrated and good to go – and you can start preparing this from the previous day. Make sure you have a good meal the night before. For breakfast, a bowl of porridge with a banana and some honey, containing both slow and fast release carbohydrates, is a good option. Before you hit the start line (an hour before the race), having a banana or an electrolyte drink will help.’
‘For long-duration races, some people like to carbo-load in preparation for a race. This is less necessary for a 10k but if you are thinking of doing something longer, carbo-loading is something to consider. This involves eating minimal carbohydrates four days before your race to cause depletion. Then, two days before your race, aim to eat three to four carbohydrate-based meals and have carbohydrate-based snacks throughout the day. Rice, pasta, bread, cereals, fruit, starchy vegetables and low-fat milk and yoghurt are nutrient-packed, carbohydrate-containing choices so you will have maximal fuel during your race. However, it is important to trial this in the build up to competition as it can have an adverse effect for some people.’
During and after
‘Make sure you drink regularly throughout the day. The best way to drink throughout the day is to sip and not gulp. Straight after the race, an electrolyte drink is really useful to replenish immediate carbohydrate stores, and a form of recovery food or bar with a combination of carbohydrates and protein is also good.
‘It’s also really important to rehydrate following your race. Rehydrating and replenishing energy stores is essential in the few days after your race to avoid becoming ill. Milk is an effective rehydration drink due to its high carbohydrate and protein content. To stimulate muscular repair, you should aim to eat 20-30g of protein. This is a really good way of regulating body temperature too. Antioxidants (e.g. blueberries) can also help the acute recovery process by mopping up potentially harmful molecules (free radicals) which will reduce inflammation in the muscles.’
Read more about the Birmingham 10k – how to sign up, training plans and more info – on our events page.