1) Stay hydrated! Water is the most important nutrient 5K runners can consume on race day. Losing as little as 2% of your body weight leads to impaired athletic performance. Follow these fluid replacement guidelines before, during, and after your training and race to stay hydrated:
- Before Exercise: Two hours prior to exercise consume 16-20 ounces of water and 10-20 minutes prior to exercise consume 7-10 ounces of water.
- During Exercise: Every 15-20 minutes consume 6-8 ounces of water.
- After Exercise: For every pound lost during exercise, 24 ounces of fluid should be consumed to aid in hydration maintenance.
2) Don’t carb-load. Consumption of carbohydrates prior to exercise increases an individual’s glycogen (energy) stores. Our bodies normally deplete glycogen stores after 60 minutes of exercise and as a result many athletes experience the “hit the wall” feeling. Carbohydrate loading is often done by endurance athletes for a race or competition to help delay the onset of fatigue. However, carbohydrate loading is only recommended for athletes exercising longer than 90 minutes. Since, most runners complete a 5K in less than 60 minutes carbohydrate loading is not recommended for this type of race.
3) Choose foods with a low glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly your blood glucose (ie blood sugar) rise after consumption when compared a reference food. Consuming foods with a lower glycemic index prior to a race is believed to have the following effects by researchers: reduces hypoglycemia which can occur at the beginning of exercise, increases fatty acid concentration in the blood (fuel), increases fat breakdown in the body, and possibly enhancing performance. Foods with a low glycemic index include: seeds, beans, soy, peanuts, almonds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
4) Get Fueled! Before you exercise it is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack r meal, that is low in fat and fiber so your body may properly digest all of the food.
- 3-4 hours before a morning race: peanut butter with whole wheat toast, fruit and yogurt smoothie, or whole wheat English muffin and a small banana
- 30-60 minutes prior to your race consume: a sports drink, water with a granola bar, water with a cup of grapes
5) Practice, Practice, Practice. It important to practice your nutrition and hydration schedule ahead of time. Race day is not the time to try out a new whole wheat bagel, drinking coffee, sports gels, sports drinks, etc. If you don’t practice your food and hydration pattern before race day you won’t know how your body will react and your performance could suffer.