April kicks off the major race season across the country and for many runners heading out to their big race day, what to eat and how to nourish your body and belly should be top of mind.
Board-certified specialist in pediatrics, registered dietitian Lara Field, a runner herself, has some great tips for racers to maximize their race day and fuel up for the long run.
There are many hydration options on the market and keeping your body full of electrolytes is of utmost importance to having a successful race. COMPARE: GATORADE, COCONUT WATER, AND PLAIN WATER
- Gatorade is actually categorized as a “sugary drink”; scientifically formulated specifically for endurance athletes, its combination of sugars and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) are important to replenish after excessive sweating. Ideal for a long event (1+hrs), but should be removed your everyday pantry due to sugar content. *Zemas founder, Jill Motew, does not advocate drinking Gatorade due to the color dyes.
- Coconut water deemed “mother nature’s sports drink” naturally contains potassium and carbohydrates, however unlike Gatorade, the sodium content is sub-optimal which is key during times of excessive sweating.
- Water is imperative to replace fluid lost through sweat during exercise, however it lacks the proper balance of sodium, potassium, and glucose which are important to replace during long-distance or endurance events.
Drink about 8-16 oz for every 15 minutes of exercise, for those events that EXCEED one hour, consider a sports drink that contains sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates. Keep the sports drinks out of the reach of children due to the sugar content.
2) Watch your intake before race day - and during race munchies
Don’t wait until the night before to eat a huge portion of carbs you may not be used to. Complex carbohydrates include millet, amaranth, teff and gluten-free oats (for those needing gluten-free) contain SUSTAINED energy, break down slowly which make them ideal for long events. Try Zemas Black Bean Brownie Bites for all these grains packed into one chocolatey yummy bite!
Instead of artificial energy gels, why not make one at home?
TART CHERRY GEL
Servings: 5 (slightly less than 1/4 cup each)
1/2 cup frozen tart cherries
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp honey
1. In a blender or food processor, blend cherries and orange juice. Add in chia seeds and salt. (It will be slightly foamy on top)
2. Let chia mixture sit for 5 minutes, then give a good stir. Let sit for another 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.
3. Add honey and thoroughly combine (it should be really thick). Pour slightly less than 1/4 cup of gel into 5 individual snack size plastic baggies.
4. Freeze until the night before a run. Place in fridge to thaw.
You can just rip a hole in the side of the plastic bag and eat the mixture straight up. OR dilute the mixture with water and consume throughout your run in a normal water bottle
Nutrition info per servings: 104 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat fat), 1.5 g pro, 24 g carb, potassium 55 mg, sodium 60 mg
Make sleep a priority, especially the week before a big race. You work your body hard and long to train, but rest and sleep are just as important. Try to AVOID CAFFEINE after noon. Set a bedtime ritual that allows you to decompress after a long day. Instead of watching an action packed movie, try reading a book.
Lara Field is the founder of www.feedkids.com.