We’re talking about one of our favorite subjects today- food! How to eat before running a night race, to be exact.
It took me years to figure out the best way to fuel for a morning race or long run. So when I signed up for runDisney’s Tower of Terror 10-miler, I knew I was wading into uncharted territory.
Sure, I’d be running in the dark. But I’ve done that before as I tackled many pre-dawn runs. Plus I knew the course would be well-lit and filled with Disney characters, so that wasn’t too much of a concern.
But how was I going to fuel? I was used to resting, waking and eating something small and settling – a bagel flat with peanut butter, a banana or a granola bar. So with a 10 p.m. race start, snacking the day away wasn’t really an option. Hydrating like crazy wasn’t a great strategy either, unless I wanted to spend my hours before the start repeatedly racing to a toilet.
I decided to eat a large lunch around 1 p.m. My meal consisted of a delicious mozzarella and tomato sandwich on foccacia bread, a light vegetable orzo salad and plenty of water. I also inhaled a bunch of bread. I nearly ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, but decided on the meatless option since I knew it would sit better in my stomach. Another option I would consider would be a very light pasta entrée (no gnocci, ravioli or alfredo sauce here!)
My theory on fueling with a meal on race day: the blander the better. Fewer frills on my plate means there’s less of a chance for an upset stomach.
(For the record, I ate an egg, cheese and turkey sausage biscuit and some fruit for breakfast that morning.)
I dined with friends at an eatery at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and we all consumed gallons of water. I hydrated well into the afternoon, but stopped cold around 6 p.m. I didn’t want to keep heading to the toilet.
I attempted to nap around 4. That lasted all of 45 minutes. My roommate and friend Jen managed a two hour nap while I hydrated and chatted with friends in cozy rocking chair at our resort, Disney’s Boardwalk. I don’t think napping is vital, but laying down to rest, even just for a bit helped ease my brain about staying up until the wee hours of the morning!
Around 6:30, Jen and I each ate a bowl of instant oatmeal. I’ve eaten this in the past before many a long run and knew It would supply me with some much-needed energy in the coming hours. Jen and I also split a banana around 8:30 p.m.
When I head back to Florida next month for my next night race, I plan to utilize this strategy again. I’ll eat a large midday meal, the blander the better. I’ll nap – or try to nap the afternoon before the race. And I will eat some oatmeal 3.5 to 4 hours before the race is set to start. It worked for me in October! Fingers crossed that it will go smoothly too!
Disney’s Wine and Dine half marathon was my first half-marathon back in 2011. It’s easy to find advice about fueling for a race online…but for a night race, specifically? Not so much. I remember googling different phrases to see if I could find anything on the subject and coming up empty.
Unlike Victoria, I still hadn’t figured out exactly what race day nutrition would work best for me, and I was extremely nervous about getting a belly ache during the race.
I’m an over-thinker. I love to ponder something for days. Weeks, even. Discuss pros and cons with my husband. Make a list or ten. I’m true to my Libra ways in this respect. After googling and discussing and writing it all down, I decided to treat this race like I would a morning run. I’d eat a large lunch, then not have anything but water for about six or seven hours before the race. At that time, I’d have my small breakfast-y type that I was already accustomed to eating before a long run.
I had an early lunch- around 11:30 or 12 (I can’t recall the exact time)- a simple pasta with red sauce and bread. Then water, water, water. At dinner time, I had my toast (and coffee, which was part of my “morning” ritual) and I brought my banana with me to the race start.
This nutrition strategy worked well for me, so I plan to do the same thing in a few weeks. I have the fuel figured out, we’re working on costumes and I already have dates set with my girls. The countdown is on!
Have you run a night race? Did you take a pre-race nap? How did you fuel? Roll call! Who is coming to Florida in two weeks?