BolderBoulder is in three days, the weather is getting bright, and Boulder is starting to hum with runners up and down the Creek Path. Seasoned runners know that when you hit the trails you have to have food in your body, and that the right food makes a difference between a slog and a brisk trot.
What you eat, of course, depends on how far you’re going. When I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon at the end of April, I carried a Power Bar, a pack of Clif Shot Blocks, and a Clif Bar in my running shorts. I had eaten them all before the three and a half hour race was over.
In a 10k like the BolderBoulder, on the other hand, most runners shouldn’t be carrying fuel. I’ll probably go with my regular routine: eat a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit an hour or two before the race, long enough that it digests but not so long that I’m hungry when the gun goes off. The main thing is that your system feels comfortable and settled on the line.
Even more important is the night (and the few days) before: what’s affectionately known as carbo-loading. Pumping carbohydrates into your body adds glycogen to your muscles that can be broken down quickly into energy during a race. I find it best to avoid foods that I have a questionable relationship with. Gluten, aside from all the theories, is found by a lot of runners to be inflammatory and a sap on energy. So instead of the traditional pasta dinner you might, like me, go with a dinner of curried potatoes on brown rice.
After a race or a workout, chocolate milk is a popular recovery drink. It combines simple carbs and protein in a way that helps the muscles recover quickly as well as kickstarts their growth. But if you’re not a huge fan of dairy, you might opt for fresh fruit paired with a protein. Organic apples dipped in fresh-ground peanut butter is one of my favorite post-workout foods.
At the end of the day, an intuitive understanding of your own hunger will serve you well. If you’ve been training, you’ll know what your body wants and needs. Once you get to the starting line, the rest is up to you!