Picking the perfect pre-race breakfast

(via Pinterest)

After months of training, I am now three days away from running my first ever half marathon. I can’t believe how fast it has come but I feel so confident in my training and ready to run happy. However, one of my biggest concerns this past week has been how to fuel my body before the race.

I asked some friends and sought advice from Runner’s World and Active.com and the one major take away from everything- don’t change anything. I’ve known this all along, the worst time to try something new is on race day but I have a problem. In my training thus far, I really haven’t had much to eat on long-run days besides a cup of coffee and some water. Even when I did my 14-miler, the only thing I ate beforehand was a pack of Chomps and Gatorade.

However, I have fueled before some smaller races before with a slice of whole grain toast, some fruit (usually strawberries or oranges) and some coffee. This has always been a pretty good pre-race meal to me so I think I’m going to stick to this for the half as well.

After further research however, I had questions like, how much time should I leave between breakfast and start time. The answer I found from Runner’s World was at least two to three hours before. Although this will mean a very early morning for me (the race starts at 8 a.m. but I’ll have to be there at 7 a.m. and it’s an hour away) but it will allot enough time for digestion so I can start feeling nourished but not full and heavy.

According to the Runner’s World article as well I should sip water up to a half and hour before the race starts, this way I’ll be hydrated but not over-hydrated and have to stop at a port-a-pottie along the course.

Since I’ve basically already decided on doing my toast-fruit-coffee routine, I’m not planning on trying anything different but I’m interested in why this has worked for me in the past? According to an Active.com article, a solid pre-race meal should consist of 80 percent carbohydrates. The article said the type of carbs isn’t as important but many runners, like myself, tend to choose more bland foods like a whole grain toast or some runners like oatmeal.

Some ideas for pre-race fuel could be:

  • Bagel or toast topped with either peanut butter or a low-fat spread– many people eat this for breakfast routinely so it’s always good to stick to routine come race morning. Also, bagels and toast are chalk-full of carbs which are needed for fuel during a race.
  • Bananas– lots of runners love bananas as an addition to any pre-race meal (personally, I hate bananas so I can’t speak to this very much) but they have 30 grams of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in potassium which is lost while sweating during running.
  • Energy Bar– a lot of runners eat energy bars before a race but this is something you really have to be careful with in terms of not trying anything new. Stick to a bar you know that’s rich in carbohydrates but not too high in fat or protein (save those bars for after the race).
  • Shakes– there are a lot of runners who like to make a real-replacement shake before a race. I’ve never tried this but there are tons of recipes out there for these kinds of shakes.
  • Oatmeal– this is another good fuel-boosting carbohydrate option. It’s bland but won’t upset your stomach while racing.

I would also recommend drinking some kind of caffeine if you’re a frequent morning caffeine-drinker. I have coffee every morning so I try not to change this on race day but sometimes I’ll opt for caffeinated tea on race day instead of coffee (because I like cream in my coffee and that can be weird).

As always, DON’T try anything new on race day. A poorly picked pre-race meal could possibly wipe out all of those months of training and preparation. Stick to what you know, race hard and look forward to that amazing post-race meal!

What is your go-to pre-race breakfast fuel? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!

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Mini race recap: Wrentham Wroad Wrace

Me at the Wrentham Wroad Wrace!

Earlier this week I found out there was going to be a 5K literally 5 minutes from my house in Wrentham, Mass. called the Wrentham Wroad Wrace. Of course I immediately signed up because usually I have to travel for races but this one was so close!

As I said it was just a 5K so nothing too crazy but it was really great to get out there and race. It’s hard to believe but I actually haven’t “raced” many road races. I’ve done a few since I started running in March but I can literally count them on one hand. This is not OK, I realize this. While I went into this race just wanting to have fun and get to know some of the local runners I came away from it with so much more.

Pre-race prep the night before the race.

I love to run! But I also really enjoy racing. I love all of it from the pre-race prep and dynamic stretching to the gun going off at the start line and the cheers at the finish. Nothing better. This race also made me realize the only way to get better at racing is to race often. There’s such a science behind where to line up at the start and how much water to drink, what to bring on race day and how to pass other runners without being obnoxious. And frankly, the only way to get better at these details of racing is to get out there and race.

While I absolutely love my long runs and going for longer distances, I think running these shorter, faster distances are the only way to improve on racing techniques. I know I’m never going to be a sub-3 marathoner (unless I’m talking about my Paul Ryan time) and I’m fine with that because more than racing and PRs and time, I just love running. To me, my end goal is to be a runner for life no matter how fast or how slow. If that means not racing for a few months, or racing every weekend I’m OK either way. All I know is today was a great race, and despite awfully high temperatures and unbearable humidity, the camaraderie of the other runners is really what makes it special.

Ready to run!

As far as my finish time, well I made a huge racing mistake here because I started my RunKeeper before I got to the start line and forgot to stop it at the finish line. These are the kinds of things you can only learn by racing often. Hopefully they’ll put up the results soon so stay tuned!

If you raced this weekend share it in the comments section below! What did you race? How did it go?

Race Recap: The Color Run New England

At the starting line of the Color Run (pre-color obviously)

Last Saturday I ran the famed Color Run with my college roommate and a group of new friends! The Color Run claims to be “the happiest 5k on the planet” and I have to conquer. However, there were some minor setbacks that really could have ruined the race if it wasn’t so much fun to begin with but looking at it as a whole, I thought it was a blast!

The race was located in Amesbury, Mass. and finished at the Amesbury Sports Park. The day I ran the race, the announcer at the starting line said there was nearly 11,000 people running- that’s a lot of color runners! Needless to say, the race was absolutely packed. My friends and I all wore white in order to get the most out of the color along the way. If you’re not familiar with the Color Run, it is a 5k route and at each kilometer mark the wonderful people from the Color Run throw colored corn starch at you and by the end of the race you are a fully-covered tie-dyed runner! It’s awesome.

We arrived at the Color Run around 8:30 a.m. and took the shuttle to the starting line. We were shocked by how many people were actually participating in the race so we decided to get to the starting line as soon as possible. The staffers of the Color Run released the runners in waves, separated by five minutes as to not clog the course too much. While this was a valiant effort, I still felt the course was far too crowded and I’d say the majority of people ended up walking rather than running. This caused quite a problem for those of us who wanted to run because we had to dodged and weave in between the walkers. Also, in order to get a good amount of color at the color stops at each kilometer, we had to slow to a walk. This was fine but messed with the run a bit.

Besides the crowds I thought the run itself was great! My only wish is that it was longer because it was over sooo fast! The end of the race was a big party. We were all given color packets that we were able to open at the end and throw up in the air, completely covering ourselves in color, in case we were covered enough to begin with! We were able to get samples of drinks and granola bars at the end which was good because the temperature skyrocketed during the race.

At the finish line, post-color!

One of the concerns I had for the race was the lack of water on the course. There was one water stop about halfway through the course but the water was warm and not very refreshing, especially after a ton of color got in my mouth. Another issue that was really beyond the race directors’ control was the shuttling back to the parking lots after the race. The place we had to park was about 15 minutes away because the Amesbury Sports Park couldn’t accommodate the amount of runners, which is totally understandable. When we got in line to go back to our cars we were informed there had been an accident on the highway so all shuttles had to be rerouted. We ended up standing in line for about an hour and a half, in the sun, with no water.

After running a race this was a little frustrating because we were tired and thirsty. The Color Run sent out an e-mail on July 30 apologizing for any frustrations, which I think everyone appreciated. I have friends who ran the race on Sunday and said it was fantastic and there were no issues, so I’m glad everything worked out in the end.

As you may have noticed in this post, I didn’t tell you my finish time. That’s because I didn’t have one. No one did. The Color Run is simply for fun! Plus no one would have gotten a good time anyways with the frequent stops and bobbing and weaving in between walkers. Another issue that came up during the race was some knee irritation. I think due to the bobby and weaving in between walkers I aggravated my runner’s knee. It’s still bothering me four days after the race so I’m trying to rest it and praying it will get better soon!!

Overall it was a really fun event and I would love to do it again. I hope you consider running it in your area!

…and I’m a color runner!