Race Day Nutrition

“What should I eat before I run?” This is the number one question asked by runners but no one seems to know the answer. Everyone is different when it comes to what fuels you to run but there are some basic guidelines to follow. I encourage you to try out different foods on workout days to see what works for you.


blueberry chia pancakes

This is your biggest and most important meal of the day since it is so far from race time. Stick to a protein-rich breakfast with some whole grains.

My favorite: The best breakfast in my opinion is a big bowl of oatmeal because you can customize it with protein-rich toppings and mix-ins. Start with 1 serving of homemade oatmeal using rolled oats over the stovetop.

Mix-ins: Peanut/ Sunflower butter, pumpkin, ginger, sweet potato, figs, blueberries, raspberries, bananas

Toppings: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, greek yogurt, granola


Other breakfast options:

  • Scrambled eggs with avocado toast (on whole wheat bread)
  • Whole-grain waffles topped with PB + banana, yogurt, or PB & J
  • Protein cereal such as Special K (not Kashi too much fiber!) with a bowl of fruit and topped with some sort of protein/healthy fat such as peanut butter or pumpkin seeds.



Aim for a lot of simple carbs, veggies, and sugar from fruit, paired with a protein side. I like sandwiches because you can knock out veggies, protein, and carbs. Eat at least one thing from each column.


Main Protein Fruit Veggie Other Carb
Sandwich on whole grain bread Lean meat such as Turkey or chicken (Tofurky slices are actually so good if you’re a vegetarian) Grapes Carrots Crackers such as wheat thins or Ritz
Bagel w/ peanut butter or make it like a sandwich Yogurt Banana Cucumber slices ½ Bobo oat bar
Small portion of pasta such as Pesto Pasta Beef Jerky Raspberries Snap Peas & peppers Rice cake
Almond butter packets (or PB) Wild Friends!!! Pineapple Raw Broccoli pieces Banana Chips



Depending on how sensitive your stomach is you might just want to have a protein and carb-rich snack two hours before the race. If you get hungry or need more to sustain you there are also options for less than 1 hour before you race.  Watch your fiber!!

2018-03-06 09.09.18 1.jpg


2 hours prior Less than 1 hour before
  • Protein bars: I like the following:
  • 6 oz. container of yogurt w/ fruit (I like Siggis)
  • PB & J
  • 1 piece of fruit & 1 string cheese
  • Carrots & hummus, a few pretzels
  • Trail mix: ¼ cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp almonds, ¼ cup dried fruit
  • Munk Pack maple quinoa squeeze
  • GU gel
  • Banana chips
  • Orange slices
  • Grapes


Foods to avoid on race-day: Steel-cut oats (unless for breakfast), figs, popcorn, apples, quinoa, big salads, kale, too much whole-grains (stick to simple carbs that your body can digest easily), cheese

Water: It matters more if you drink 70 oz. of water the DAY BEFORE you race so stay hydrated during the week. On race-day (since we race in the afternoon) consume about 32 oz. before the race. Try not to drink too much because it won’t help you significantly and will also add the possibility of a bathroom break during your race. Try to stop drinking water, if you can, 1-1.5 hours prior to race-time. I love to put Nuun Caffeine in my water to keep me hydrated and energized.



I want to make sure that you are getting enough vegetables and protein during the week as well. During the season, nutrition is really important and not just what you eat matters but how much you eat. Female runners often don’t eat enough and that results in eating disorders that can ruin your performance. Another common theme around female runners is Anemia (something I struggle with as well). Anemia is iron-deficiency and occurs mainly in female runners when they are running more mileage than usual. Cross Country season is a time when we are running more than usual and if you seem to be feeling unusually fatigued or have seem a dip in performance level you might be low in iron. I supplement using liquid iron every other week, but you also can include more iron in your diet through leafy greens and meat.  If you think you might be iron deficient, you may want to visit your physician for a blood test.


If you have any questions regarding iron or running nutrition, don’t be afraid to ask me! I have been through it all when it comes to food and nutrition! Message me through instagram (@tacosandtempos) or use the Contact page of this blog.

Other Resources:


One thought on “Race Day Nutrition

  1. Lucky Iron Fish says:

    Great advice! We have another great solution for high intensity athletes to combat their additional iron needs – the Lucky Iron Fish! It’s safe, and as simple as drinking water!


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