What to eat if you race in the afternoon

Most of the races are in the morning, so it is easier to plan what to eat before, with a nutritious breakfast that can be eaten 2 hours before the start time of the competition. But some races as traditional start at 5 in the afternoon, in the case of the popular start, or at 8 in the international for professional runners, and we have received questions from the newsroom about what and how to eat before an afternoon run for energy without weighing down digestion.

For those of you who are going to run a race in the afternoon for the first time, the first thing to do is to calm down, even if you are not used to competing after eating, you have surely done race training at that time before, and for this, you will have had to adapt the time and the food that you have eaten at noon. 

In general, there are three rules to follow when having a meal before any race, be it in the morning or the afternoon, which are:

  • 1/ Eat at least 2 hours before the start time of the race.
  • 2/ Avoid slow or heavy digestion foods, prioritizing simple carbohydrates
  • 3/ Try what you are going to eat beforehand in training.

If the race is in the morning, adapting these rules is usually easier since we are not in the habit of eating copious breakfasts in our country. It will be enough for us to have coffee or tea only with a bowl of natural or vegetable yogurt with fresh fruit, drops of dark chocolate, oat flakes, and honey, for example, to have energy and go light to the competition, hydrating ourselves during the 2 hours of digestion and in case of breakfast has been made earlier. There is hunger; you can eat half or a whole banana up to half an hour before going out.

When the race is in the afternoon, it is more difficult to find food combining light digestion with nutrients to have energy since we tend to eat in more quantities and with more variety than breakfast. 

What to eat for a race in the afternoon?

We do not have just one answer; we are going to give you three tips so that you can choose the one that best suits you: 

1/ Eat 2 breakfasts, one in the morning and one at lunch, at least 2 hours before the race

That is, repeat breakfast that day, or vary breakfast a bit, trying to have a stronger breakfast, for example, a couple of slices of whole wheat bread with avocado and tomato with tea or coffee and fresh fruit. And then, at lunchtime, make breakfast with a bowl of yogurt with oat flakes, dark chocolate, fresh fruit, and honey. 

What to eat if you race in the afternoon

Since your body is already used to digesting that breakfast, you won’t have heavy digestion. Since you’ve already had a more substantial breakfast in the morning, you won’t arrive hungry at lunchtime and will avoid eating too much. 

2/ Eat a small, light meal rich in easily digestible carbohydrates

It is one more option for people who need to eat for real; the breakfast bowl is not enough for them. You can eat a small plate with pasta and natural tomato, the classic option before a race, or a medium plate of baked potato with baked fish and fresh tomato if you want a more flavorful and varied option. 

What to eat if you race in the afternoon

3/ Do not eat; leave fasting after having breakfast first thing in the morning

This is another option for those who are used to running and competing in sprints on an empty stomach. Suppose you have done it in races early in the morning, going out with a coffee or tea alone, and it has gone well. In that case, you can do the same, but to avoid spending so many hours fasting, try eating breakfast 7-8 hours before the departure time, an energetic and complete breakfast that you have already tried before, for example, the bowl of yogurt with oat flakes, dark chocolate, fresh fruit, and honey.

What to eat if you race in the afternoon

This option can help people with slow digestion, who feel a feeling of heaviness when they train in the afternoon, even if they eat lightly. Still, it requires having tried it before and checking that your body works well on an empty stomach since it can get energy from the combustion of reserve fats, and that is trained; it is not something natural in our society of 3-5 meals a day. 

One piece of advice: hydrate with caution. In the afternoon races, we risk hydrating ourselves more or less since we have more hours before starting to run to drink water, which can slow digestion or make us have to go to the bathroom several times. But the opposite can also happen: since the race is in December and it’s cold, we need to hydrate more. Then by sweating while running, we lose much more fluid and end up badly, not only decreasing performance but also compromising our immune system. 


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