I'm running a 10k race on Sunday. How should I prepare my body diet and supplement wise?
February 25, 2009 4:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm running a 10k race on Sunday. How should I prepare my body diet and supplement wise?

I've been running 3-4 miles every other day for the past 6 weeks and will be joining a 10k race this Sunday and hope to prepare my body so it'll have enough energy to last me through the race. What should I be eating in the next few days and the few hours before the race? And what supplement do you recommend?

P.S. The race starts 5 a.m. in the morning. Any tips on early morning race would be appreciated also.

Thank you!
posted by willy_dilly to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Don't prepare any differently for a race than you would for a training run. Stick to your usual routine. Ignore the pasta-the-night-before diets and over-hydrating routines unless that's what you usually do. If the race is early in the morning and you usually train later in the day, you'll have to start your routine the same length of time before the race as you would the training run. That's the only adjustment I have to make.

My routine prep requires 2 cups of coffee about an hour and a half before a run as a laxative, a couple pieces of toast with honey, and some thought as to the weather so I'll know what clothes to wear. I like to get to the race no sooner than a half hour before the gun because I don't like standing around in the cold waiting to start. I start warming up 10-15 minutes before the race with a half-mile or so jog and a couple of 'race pace' sprints. Then I stretch, and make my final clothing call. You shouldn't hydrate any differently for a race than your body is used to. You'll only wind up having to make a pee stop when you least want to.

Finally, be extra sensitive to the pace over the first mile or so. Everyone is pumped up at the start so expect some wild fluxuations and surges by the herd. Get into your 'zone' as soon as you can and let your stride take over. If you're not with a usual running partner, ask the people around you what their intended pace is. Don't get delusions of grandeur because you feel good. That's adrenaline talking. Stick to your race pace.
posted by birdwatcher at 5:10 AM on February 25, 2009

I'm no athlete, so this isn't expert advice, just what works for me.

Hydration is the most important thing, so get plenty of water in you the day before and first thing (ie as soon as you get up). Stay off the booze and caffeine the day before, as well.

Eat well during the coming days - just healthy food, no need to scoff tons of carbs, as this isn't an endurance race. Eat normal amounts, even the day before, and stick to what you know won't leave you feeling too full or bloated. But make sure you have a good evening meal. Avoid the junk food and sodas, and don't change your diet too much.

You don't say how long you'll have before he race (ie what time you'll be getting up) but you just need to eat something light 1-2 hours before you start. Basically the longer the time before the race, the more you can eat. But this won't be a big meal, just a carb-based breakfast that's not too sugary - stick to complex carbs (starches). I had a bowl of porridge (oatmeal) and two boiled eggs each time before my 10ks and it worked for me.

But I've also run 8k before breakfast, having just had a couple of cookies and a cup of tea before setting out, with no feelings of exhaustion. If you're the sort that can't stand food early in the day, don't eat more than you want.

If this is your first race, then the adrenaline of taking part will help. Don't overdo it in the first half. Keep to a pace you're used to, since you'll be running a longer distance than you've done before, and you want to be able to keep this up in the second half of the race.

I don't think supplements will do anything at this stage.

Dress warm beforehand. Warm up before the start and have a last, small drink of water. You'll have a great time. Let us know how you get on.
posted by dowcrag at 5:19 AM on February 25, 2009

This is how I prepare:

No running the day before a race. Work your running schedule so that you run on Thursday and not again until the race on Sunday.

I eat pasta the night before the race (and it's just about the ONLY time I ever eat it). By morning I have a lot of good stored glycogen to power me through the day.

I'm not big on nutrition bar or gooey supplements before or during a race. They do nothing for me but I do take a sensible multivitamin every day and one right before the race on race day. Centrum Performance seems to be pretty good. It'll help you recover faster.

You also might want to consider a sugar free energy drink an hour before the race--like half a can of Rock Star (or full can depending on your weight). It's got quite a few vitamins in it and makes me extremely alert without making me jittery as if I've had too much coffee. That stuff can raise the dead. Lots of energy!

Eat a reasonable breakfast after the race.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 5:25 AM on February 25, 2009

Another vote for don't do anything that you haven't done before--especially a new supplement or gatorade or anything you didn't train with.

As for the 5am start, what do you usually do before a run? You may have to get up super early to do what you normally do (e.g. my pre-run/race routine was to be up two hours before the race to have coffee and a liter of water and have time to, uh, let it take its course). Other than that and getting a good amount of sleep (keeping in mind that you may not be able to sleep but don't worry too much because adrenaline will wke you up and you'll crash later), you should be good.

I also very much agree to go out in the first mile or two as slow as possible. People tend to gun it and then be miserable later. You particularly should keep this in mind because it sounds like miles 4-6 will be where you will be in new territory in the first place. When I used to run races of over 10k or so, I would often start out VERY slow--if you are trained properly you should be able to get into the groove and pick it up later.

Good luck--10k is a really fun distance!!
posted by Pax at 5:47 AM on February 25, 2009

Nthing "Do not change a damn thing." If you usually have coffee and doughnuts before a run, have coffee and doughnuts. Changing something up will lay the hurt on you. Whatever you do for training will serve you perfectly well for your race -- it's just another run.

Don't be worried if you're too excited to sleep the night before. It happens, and you'll be fine.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:36 AM on February 25, 2009

Eat breakfast, run.
posted by OmieWise at 6:50 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to say have a good race this Sunday. I second the advice to avoid making unfamiliar last minute changes to your diet and routine. Your previous running proves that you are fully prepared! Have fun and enjoy the race!
posted by tokidoki at 6:52 AM on February 25, 2009

Yeah... don't overthink this. Go with what works... and more importantly, have fun!

Stop back by and let us know how it goes...
posted by ph00dz at 7:59 AM on February 25, 2009

Nothing new on race day. A few suggestions for future races.

You don't need to do a huge carb load for a 10K, but having some extra glycogen is a good thing. Do add some extra carbs to your lunch on Saturday. Most people carb load at dinner but that's too late for their bodies to metabolize the carbohydrates and get the fuel to the muscles.

The general advice on pre-race meals is about 400-500 calories that's around 75% carbohydrates. My pre-race meal is a big (310 calorie) rice krispie treat with some peanut butter on it. It's carbtastic with some protein and fat. I can eat 10 seconds before I run, but strive for a 60-90 minute buffer between your last bite and crossing the starting line.

Starting on Thursday or Friday, ramp up your hydration - especially if your race is in the heat. On the day before the race, I usually have a few glasses of electrolyte. (I like Ultima; it's sugar-free and it has a more complete electrolyte profile than Gatorade or Powerade.) By the way, the additional carbs also create some hydration bloat which you'll sweat out during the race.

At the race expo/race number pick-up - do not sample all the nutrition bars and stuff. All that stuff is new to your system. Adding it to the mix the day before the race is a recipe for a churning gut during the race.

Enjoy your race.
posted by 26.2 at 8:23 AM on February 25, 2009

Agree with the above to maintain what you have been doing. Also this is not the time to try out new shoes, socks clothes or anything else.
posted by mmascolino at 8:50 PM on February 25, 2009

It depends a bit on how long you think you will take to run 10k? Races 10k and below are where you don't really need to worry about re-hydration and re-fueling during the race.

The rule of thumb is that you need to 'top up' your glycogen stores every 50-60 minutes. Your body can use 2 types of fuel, there is fast burning glycogen and slow burning body fat. But you need an amount of glycogen to convert body fat into energy that is usable by your muscles (like a catalyst or fire lighter). If you run out of glycogen you run out of the easy fuel to create energy for your muscles - you 'hit the wall'. So you need to top up your glycogen levels every 50-60 minutes of exercise. you do this with gels, sports drinks, sugar, lollies etc.

What does that mean to you? If you are going to run a sub 60 minute 10k then eating well on Sat and a small breakfast should be all you need. I normally drink a gatorade or have a gu/gel 5 min before race start. If you are going to be running much longer than 1 hour then I would carry and eat a gel at about 50 minutes - or if they provide sport drink use that.

Like people have said, you should practice everything - but it is a bit late for that! If you have a weak stomach then don't do anything different, if you have a cast iron stomach then go for it.

Pick up the pace with about 2k to go - even if you feel stuffed. Trust me on this :-)

Probably the most important thing is to practice running at 5am!

Relax. You run slower and use more energy if you run 'tense'.
posted by lamby at 8:15 AM on February 26, 2009

Be sure to come back and give a race report.
posted by 26.2 at 9:05 AM on March 1, 2009

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