A month ago at #RnRAZ where I was on stage with @RunEMZ talking about social media we were asked what type of fuel we use. It’s a common question amongst runners as we compare what we are snacking on mid-run or what is in our hydration pack. As I was answering one of the questions which happened to be “What do you eat before a race?” I couldn’t help but smile at how ridiculous my answer was going to be.

Before I get to what I’m eating before I attempt to run 26.2 miles, it’s important to bring up the point that what works for me, might now work for you… and vice versa. I know plenty of runners that talk about how they drink a cup of coffee pre-run. For me that wouldn’t work, but for them, it’s gold. Steel cut oatmeal, bananas, granola, you name it. There are plenty of options that runners will swear by… nothing surprises me.

Part of the training process is finding out through trial and error what will help you get to the finish line. You’ll want to sample fuel options on your weekly runs and try to perfect them on your longer runs. You definitely want to find out if a particular product will cause “issues” on a training run as opposed to mile 10 of a race. Most importantly you’ll also want to nail down what works successfully, this includes before a run and during.

So what’s my prerace meal?

If I’m at home, it’s a small bowl of plain Cheerios and toast with peanut butter. Sometimes it’s both, sometimes it’s one of the two. It really depends on how early I wake up as I’ll want it to fully digest prior to the start line. If I’m on the road or at a hotel, wait for it, it’s a Payday candy bar. I know. I can hear all the runners telling me over the interwebs that it’s not a sufficient source of fuel to be successful… but remember, what works for me, might not work for you. For me, it travels well and I give me the confidence (placebo or not) that it gets me to the start line ready to tackle the distance.

What do you suggest?

One thing that I do suggest, that I feel is close to universal, is that you should take sips rather than gulps when hydrating mid run. But you’ll want to make sure you are drinking prior to feeling thirsty. Your frequency, however, may be different from other runners. As far as fuel, I try to eat something every 45 mins. I tend to use time rather than distance, but it might be easier for you to keep track taking in fuel every X miles. If it’s a bar or a pack, don’t be afraid to sample with eating a few bites or pieces… don’t feel inclined to down the whole thing at once. For example, I enjoy Sport Beans, but will eat 4-5 at a time rather than the entire pack. Again, trial and error.

Fun fact: pairing flavors of hydration and fuel can be fun. Pick a drink that will compliment your food… channel your inner wine connoisseur.

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What do you fuel with before a race?