Your Cheat Sheet To The Perfect Fueling Plan

A breakdown of what, when and why.

Nutrition is a critical component to racing—duh. It’s important to remember, what works for you may be different than your running BFF. There are some basic ground rules for a proper fueling plan. Here’s how to eat right the day of your big race so you can run your best.

Pre-race (3-4 hours)

Consume a healthy and familiar (possibly low in fat and/or fiber) meal containing mostly carbohydrates. Some examples include a bagel and peanut butter, hash browns and eggs, or oatmeal with raisins. If this is not possible in the morning, have a good dinner the night before.

Pre-race (1-2 hours)

Consume a light, carbohydrate-rich, familiar and tolerable snack with 16 ounces of fluid.

Immediately before (10–20 minutes)

Drink 7–10 ounces of fluid (with carbs and sodium for exercise over an 1 hour or if you skipped a pre-race meal).

During (every 10–20 minutes)

For races under 1 hour, drink water when you’re thirsty.

For races over 1 hour, choose a full-strength sports drink. Drink 12–28 ounces of fluid per hour (or more). Experiment with 25–40+g of carbohydrate per hour in the form of high-carb snacks, gels or chews and possibly additional electrolytes.

Post-workout (within 30 minutes)

Drink 16–24 ounces for every 1 pound lost and consume a carbohydrate-rich snack. Chocolate milk, a sports drink, a banana, orange slices or pretzels are all good choices. Aim for a real meal within 2–3 hours.