Reader’s Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Prerace Meal?

140 easy calories right here.
140 easy calories right here.

This has been a long time coming. It’s been four and a half years, actually, since I raced a half! But, in less than two weeks I plan to toe the line for 13.1 miles of sheer bliss (a girl can dream, right?). Since it’s been so long I’ve forgotten what it was I ate before big longer races. I’ve also been a bad runner and been kind of lazy about eating before long runs, just opting for some coffee (necessary) and a cereal bar. However, I’m doubting a cereal bar will give me enough energy to make it through my half. ย I need a little more for my prerace meal, I think.ย I figured the best way to get some good ideas is to ask you!

So tell me, are you a bagel and a banana girl? Do you take your toast buttered or dry? Do you think a protein is key? Are you fat- or fiber-phobic on the morning of your key races?

What do you eat before races?ย 

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. Girl, I struggle like crazy to eat before long runs and races. I almost have to force food down my throat. For Flying Pig, I decided to drink my usual coffee and I ate two hard boiled eggs and a few strawberries. I felt like it was perfect and I didn’t have to force it down.

    1. I bonked in my last full (2011) and came back to my hotel to find a half eaten clif bar and banana. I struggle with eating enough with all the jangly nerves messing with my appetite, so I feel you!

  2. For marathons or longer, two slices of bread with peanut butter on each and a bottle of gatorade. For halfs, Nature Valley Crunch PB bars and gatorade. It seems to be what my stomach handles.

  3. If it’s a morning race, then a pint of water when I wake up followed by porridge with sultanas, honey and cinnamon, sometimes walnuts too. For marathons, I might eat some toast and jam as well. Evening races are difficult though… I try to stay hydrated all day, have a normal-sized lunch and a late afternoon snack of toast with peanut butter. Usually, a short, strong coffee about 30min before racing whether it’s morning or evening.

  4. On the morning of, I like a Naked juice (Blue Machine or Green Machine), buttered bagel and a banana. Also a cup of Kefir if I get up early enough, to ward off stomach distress at race time.

  5. Before a 5-10K, it is breakfast as usual-often something savory, like left-overs from supper. Gastric distress is usually not a problem as long as I have enough time to “take care of business”. I also drink plain water and take a 200 mg caffeine tablet (coffee is an issue for me) before every race. For half and full marathons, my preference is something I never eat normally-a bear claw, apple fritter, or cronut. I figure I am running the calories off, and I indulge. I take potassium every morning, and get plenty of salt, so that is usually not a concern.

      1. I eat a LOT during marathons and halves-usually salted caramel GU, coconut bars, an occasional banana. Remember-I am not a fast runner-so I am not burning as fast as you are.

  6. Before a half I’m good with a piece of toast with a thin spread of PB and some banana slices. Oh, and half a cup of coffee of course.

      1. That’s usually plenty to get me through a half or a long run (with a gel or two during). I had the same meal before the Cleveland marathon, and had a tough time. Although I’m positive it was the humidity, not the food!

  7. I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning regardless of if it’s race day or not! Oatmeal/Chopped Almonds/Dried Fruit (+nut butter sometimes) and Coffee. My stomach is used to it, and it sticks with me! This is what I ate before the 50k yesterday and it was great!!

  8. M&Ms and potato chips. Actually, not potato chips., otherwise the whole run tastes like potato chips.

    Multigrain flavor Cheerios and grits. Maybe a gel with 20mg caffeine