A Tale of Two Night Racers

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.

20131029-084955.jpgHydrating from the rocker

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!

20131029-085714.jpgAnd this? I’ll be enjoying it after my run!


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?


7 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Night Racers

  1. I actually ran my first PM race yesterday! Had some oatmeal around 10am after an easy 3 mile run, drank a couple cups of coffee in the afternoon, and a single bite of a bagel on the drive to the race, which started at 5pm.

    The race was on the exact same course as my 5k PR from two days prior…and would you believe I ran the EXACT same 17:41 time?!?

  2. I shall be wining and dining. Last year I think I ate a caesar salad, ice cream, and onion rings at beaches and cream around 1 then didn’t eat until after the race. I’m a post-work runner, so running at night on a semi-empty stomach works pretty well for me, and I prefer it. That said, my race mantra for W&D is “x miles ’til CREME BRULEE!!!!”

  3. So far I’ve not been a fan of night runs. I’m hoping Wine & Dine will change that. 🙂 I struggle with figuring out how to fuel as I usually only have coffee before my morning runs. Will see how I work it out this time.

    I love naps under any circumstances and am planning on taking one, but being at Walt Disney World it’s hard to not want to play.

    Hope I am able to cross paths with you 🙂

    • I am definitely going to have coffee in the afternoon! To give me a boost and to make sure things move if they need to, if you know what I mean. But yeah, I’m a early morning girl. Will be interesting! Good luck, have fun and come say hi if you see one of us!

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