Tip: Smart, whole-food nutrition is your best fuel for race day. 


by the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

Carb Up Before Race Day

Your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen, which supplies energy during intense physical exertion. Loading up on carbohydrates in the days before your race provides more energy to sustain you through the race. The day before your race, nourish yourself with carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For dinner, cover three-quarters of your plate with carbohydrates. Our Chicken Artichoke Pasta is a perfect pre-race dinner, with whole wheat pasta and artichokes to keep you energized to the finish line.

Start Race Day Right

A breakfast of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein several hours before race time will provide lasting fuel. Avoid high fiber or fatty foods that may cause discomfort during your event. Tailor the amount you eat to the duration of your race – a longer race requires more energy. Oatmeal with dried fruit and walnuts, or a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana are good choices. Drink plenty of fluids, both at breakfast and prior to the start of your event. Keep in mind that you cannot hydrate at the last minute. It takes 12-24 hours to fully hydrate, so start working on this the day before the race.

Repair and Replenish

After a race, your body needs smart nutrition to repair and rebuild. Timing is important – your body is most receptive to rebuilding within the first 30 minutes after exercise. Protein speeds muscle repair and recovery, and may help you feel less sore and tired, while easily digested carbohydrates help replenish your glycogen stores. Studies suggest a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for post-race nutrition. Greek yogurt with a banana, or ½ cup of dried fruit with a handful of nuts is an optimal post-race snack. If you choose a protein shake, you probably only need one with 10 to 20 grams of protein.

Skip the Sports Drinks

While sports drinks are appropriate after a lengthy, high intensity workout, many are loaded with excess sugar, and artificial colors and flavors. For a light workout, water is sufficient. If you are running the 10K, replenish fluids and electrolytes with water and real food, like bananas and raisins, which also contain fiber and nutrients. If you use sports drinks for a longer race, make sure it is something like the Gatorade G Series, not G2 with its artificial sweeteners that don’t fuel your body.

Smart Energy Bars

Energy bars are a convenient, portable pre- or post-race snack, but many contain excess sugar and unnecessary ingredients. Choose natural bars that derive energy from fruit and nuts instead of added sugars and powders.

Fuel Up with Nourishing Foods

Whether you are running the 10k or participating in the 1-mile fun run, your body will perform better when you fuel it with balanced meals and snacks. You will be more likely to reach your goals – and have more fun – on race day. 

You will love the way you feel!

Chef Marshall O’BrienThe Chef Marshall O’Brien Group is a dedicated assembly of professionals based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the goal of using nutrition to get kids and families to lead happier, healthier lives.