So, you're getting ready for your next 5K, your next 10K, or maybe even just a hard track workout, and you're a little nervous about having an upset stomach, having GI issues. And you want to know, what should I eat for my 5K, my 10K, my speedwork whatever it is. Well, I'm Jessie Funk and on today's episode around Runner’s High, I'm going to give you some guidelines of what you can eat from your normal diet that's going to make you ready to go for the next 5K, 10K, or speedwork.
If you haven't spent any time with me here on the channel, be sure to hit that subscribe button there in the bottom right-hand corner, stick around with me. I interview experts on diet and nutrition all the time. If you check out the Smart Athlete Podcast, I've interviewed experts like Nancy Clark, who's a world-renowned dietitian, who specializes in sports nutrition, and literally wrote the book on it.
As well as recently I spoke to Alison Koch, another dietitian who specializes in runners specifically. So, if you stick around with me to the end of this episode, I will link on the screen to both my interviews with Nancy and Alison. You can check out their suggestions for how to eat to get a more in-depth idea of what you should be eating in general as well as for race day.
So, what should you be eating? That's kind of the million-dollar question, right? I want to eat something that's gonna make me feel zippy, feel fast, feel light, be good to go, and is reliable. And that's kind of the crux of it, right? We want something that's reliable that we know we can go to time and time again. And part of this comes down to practice.
You have to eat things before you go to do that 5K or that 10K and know that it's going to be okay. It comes back to that mantra that you've heard me say before if you've been on the channel, and you've probably heard somewhere else, nothing new on race day. That means you need to have tried and trued foods, don't try something new.
Now there are the occasions when we're out of town or in a different race, we're not in an area where we're familiar and we have to buy foods that we haven't eaten before. You can still stay in basically the rough guideline of things you already eat if you can't get the exact same thing. But in some of these cases, it's good to try to look for national brands, things like Clif Bar, those kinds of foods that you can go to if they sit well with you.
This isn't an endorsement for Clif Bar. That was just the first thing off the top of my head. When you're figuring out what to eat, the first question you really have to ask, besides what have I eaten before, is when is my race. Now, if you do triathlons like I do, we have to get up pretty darn early to get to race. Because 6:30, 7 o'clock race is starting. There are some running races that start at that time, but much more often they start a little bit later. So, you have to figure out when does my race start? And then when am I waking up?
Now for the longest time I've used a suggestion from my friend, former coach, Barb Lindquist, who is a former pro triathlete, first US woman to be ranked number one in the world. If you were watching in the early 2000s, you know all about Barb. Now, Barb's suggestion is to eat three to 400 calories an hour prior to your race. Now, if you're racing in the middle of the day, this is terrible, terrible advice, because you're going to eat way too much.
But if it's an early morning race, that's what you can go to. You can say, Hey, I can eat three to 400 calories leading up to this early morning race because that's about what you can digest without having too much left in your stomach when the gun goes off. But if you're racing into the afternoon or evening, then you need to think about spacing food out more regularly.
When do you usually eat? Now, this is a suggestion Alison gave and I asked her in my interview with her. When should we eat? How should we eat? She suggests three meals a day and then two snacks. So, basically, morning, mid-morning, lunch in the afternoon, mid-afternoon, another snack, and then dinner in the evening.
So, follow your normal schedule but eat something that's going to be light. And that's how we want to feel, light, right? So, we want to focus more on carbs at this time and light lean proteins. We want to stick away from fats, saturated fats in particular. Some of the healthy fats are fine.
But all those saturated fats, lots of junk food, we want to stay away from those things on race day because those are going to weigh us down. Not just physically, mentally but our digestive system takes longer to get through those things. Particularly when we eat lots of meat, it takes much, much more time than if we're eating fruit for our digestive system to get through those things. So, it's important to eat light, when your race is both in the morning and, more importantly, into the evening.
If you want a visual guide, Alison actually keyed me into this thing called the Athlete’s Plate. This is dietary suggestions from the US Olympic Committee for our Olympians. These are the things that you're supposed to be eating at different times of your training phases. So, easy, moderate, hard days. And then hard days go with race days as well. So, here's the little graphic, you can Google that, the Athlete’s Plate, you'll find the suggestions there.
This has really been a lifesaver for me and going to be a time saver as well. I've always had difficulty trying to figure out what should I be eating. When should I be eating it? And I feel like those answers don't come easily for most coaches. So, to have this reference from the US Olympic Committee, for the best athletes in our country, this is the kind of guidelines they're using to eat. That's a great thing to go to. So, check that out. That's going to be a boom for you, I am sure.
And when you look at the hard day here, that's going to be similar to the things I've already outlined in this. We want to focus on carbs, we want to focus on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and some fats are okay. Because we burn fat as fuel as an endurance athlete, right? So, those are the things you want to check out when you Google The Athlete’s Plate.
Before you go, I know I've given you a lot to digest. I'm sorry for the terrible pun, I couldn't help myself. But I have both of my interviews with Nancy and Allison coming up on the screen shortly. They have awesome dietary info to give you. So, check those out. And as always, subscribe to the channel. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.