RSU experts’ advice: what to eat before and after the race

09:07, 12 May, 2017
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This Sunday, 14 May, masses of runners will be pounding the streets of the capital during the Lattelecom Rīga Marathon with 255 racers from 10 diverse countries representing Rīga Stradiņš University among them. Experts’ advice on what to eat before you run and how to best refuel after the race have been provided by Dārta Tene, enthusiastic runner, 4th year student of the Nutrition study programme at RSU.

Fuelling your body with the correct nourishment is a key to a good race. Increased carbohydrate intake is the most important dietary recommendation for all racers, marathon and half-marathon runners among them. Carbs should be part of your pre-run and also your post-race meal, ideally during the first hour after the race to allow the body to replenish glycogen stores. The best way to replenish glycogen is to consume high-glycemic index carbs: sugar, glucose, polished white rice, white bread or bananas.

The pre-race breakfast is the time when you can cut back on fibre intake, e.g. vegetables. Eat white rice, white bread toasts, sweet yoghurt and add a teaspoon of sugar to your morning tea – this will provide energy during the race! Whilst taking part in the race eat a piece of fruit or consume special sports nutrition – energy gels and electrolyte drinks.

Definitely avoid fatty foods before the event since fats may hinder instant inflow of energy. Remember that sweets like chocolate, cookies and candies with high vegetable fats content should be left as a treat after successful finish of the race.

Protein rich breakfast on the race day will give you no real benefits, but instead would be a good meal immediately after the race (protein combined with complex carbs is an excellent source for restoring muscles).

Coffee and green tea have a stimulant-like effect on the endurance of long distance runners, however it should be remembered that these are dehydrating drinks – so, if you want to have some coffee – just a small cup.

It is recommended to have breakfast at least three hours before you reach the start line. Before going on the race you may have a small snack – half a banana, some raisins or a piece of jelly.

Balanced nutrition a couple of days before running a marathon or a half-marathon is of huge importance: eat carbohydrate rich foods: pasta, rice, buckwheat, oats, potatoes, bread, root-crops, fruit, sweets (rich in sugar but low in fats) (jelly, zephyr, jams etc.). It is advised to avoid fried foods, fatty milk and meat products, chocolate, cookies, halvah and ice cream.

Proper intake of liquid during the race is vital. In the morning before the race drink some 200-300 ml of water – do not exaggerate, the most important thing is not to feel thirst. During the race drink water or electrolyte drinks before you feel thirsty. Physical pain during the race is an indication that your body needs more water.

Pre-race breakfast:

1) white rice, oatmeal porridge, rice cakes or toasts + fruits (bananas, pears, oranges), fruits or dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, dates) + honey, sugar or jam

2) yoghurt + cereals + dried fruits + a banana

Liquid: 200–300 ml water + a small cup of coffee or green tea.