Every competitive runner has their own routine in the lead up to race day, including what foods they eat on race day and the foods they gravitate toward after completing their race. Nutrition is a popular topic among race runners.

Creating a nutrition plan up to three months before the race day can help the runner figure out which foods give them the most energy.

It is also important to do this so that the runner can build nutrition into their running plan.

Do the three pieces of bacon the runner eats for breakfast make them queasy during a run? Will a glass of milk make the runner feel better before the race?

Giving runners time to experiment with different foods can make a huge difference for their stomach on race day.

Everyone’s bodies are different. By speaking to a nutritionist, the runner can get an idea as to how many calories in a day they are burning by training for their race.

“Through the wellness center, we offer metabolic testing to figure out their metabolism, how many calories they’re intaking,” said Joshua Friedly, a health educator at the Fort Bragg Army Wellness Center.

“Then we’ll lay that out for them based off their exercise and overall caloric intake. Then they can track that on MyFitnessPal and figure out exactly how much food they need to intake.”

In the days leading up to the race, eating complex carbohydrates will help build up energy stores to use during race day.

“Three to five days prior to the race starting to increase the carbohydrate will help. A big piece to it is tracking calories, making sure the individual is meeting their caloric intake and fueling for exercise and really meeting those demands on race day,” Friedly said.

Trainingpeaks.com suggests eating a large meal for lunch the day before the race with a lighter dinner.

A pre-race breakfast two to three hours before the race rich in carbohydrates is a good way to start the day. Every runner has certain carb rich foods that makes them feel their best.

Experimenting with different foods in the lead up to the race is important to help runners determine which foods will help them give their best during the race. The hour before the race should be spent hydrating.

Friedly suggests simple carbohydrates in the hour or two before the race. These simple sugar foods can help give the runner a short burst of energy. Some people use gummy bears for a quick energy boost, Friedly said.

Hydrating during the race is also important to help keep the potassium pumps regulated throughout your body, he said.

A large part of preparing for races also involves research into which foods the aid stations along the route will carry.

According to www.Trainingpeaks.com, strategically it’s a good idea to train using these foods as the runner can discover how their body will react to the different products offered.

The website suggests that it is better to find out how the runner’s body will handle the foods offered before the race to better prepare themselves.

After finishing the race, transitioning back into complex carbohydrates can help rebuild energy stores.

“Transition into complex carbs for post energy restoration. Make sure you’re taking in enough fat and protein to rebuild muscle. Make sure to take in foods that decrease inflammation like leafy greens, healthy vitamins and minerals,” Friedly said.

Nutrition is an important aspect of successfully running a race. Experimenting with foods and speaking with a nutritionist can help attain race day goals.

The Fort Bragg Army Wellness Center offers nutrition resources for both race day and for life. Call 643-2101 for more information.