The Runner’s Guide To Eating Out

Dining Out Before A Race

Traveling to a race is part of the game for many runners. While we know we’re not supposed to be messing with anything new before the gun goes off, food sometimes gets deemed as an exception. Regardless of how tempting the Super-Spicy Gumbo may read off the menu, however, you don’t want to be setting your stomach and GI tract up for disaster the following morning.

The night before, or day of, a race steer away from:

— Anything new
— Anything overly spicy
— Too much dairy
— Avoid things high in fat which are more difficult to digest, including nuts
— Anything too salty, since it will cause you to retain excess water
— High-residue foods, as in too much fiber; fiber will sit heavier and longer in your stomach. This is one instance where you don’t want a ton of vegetables.
— Your personal ‘trigger’ foods that cause problems

Seek out:

— ‘Bland’ and simple foods: you’re eating for performance more-so than taste
— Low-residue foods: go for low-fiber carbohydrates like potatoes, white bread and white rice
— Adequate protein: opt for lean meats

The Carbo-Loading Debate

There’s a misconception newer runners have when it comes to how many carbs they need. “Many people believe that large volumes of carbohydrates should be consumed after training sessions for endurance athletes because they glycogen deplete. If training is designed appropriately with recovery sessions, etc., carbohydrate restoration will happen automatically if someone eats properly. There is no need to gorge on carbohydrates in large volumes at any one time,” says Austin.

While a bowl of pasta before a 5K is fine, having two or three in the name of carbo-loading will actually have a negative effect. The influx of carbs will cause the runner to retain excessive amounts of water; in addition to leaving you feeling bloated, the extra water weight will be more for you to carry through to the finish and may cause you to slow down.

RELATED: Effective Fueling Strategies For Runners

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