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What to Eat Two Days Before a Half-Marathon

by
author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
What to Eat Two Days Before a Half-Marathon
Eating right helps you finish feeling strong. Photo Credit Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

It's normal to be nervous or excited the week leading up to a half-marathon. As you scale back your training and prepare for the race, you start to get some energy back after weeks of hard training.

Take care of your diet until the race and you'll feel and perform better. Two days before the race you'll start to shift your diet to more carbohydrates and less protein.

Planning out all of your meals and runs can be exhausting and tedious, but it's the best way to make sure you run your half-marathon well. Everything you've worked for culminates in one race, one day on your calendar.

General Training Diet

During most of your training, a majority of your calories have come from carbohydrates --around 55 percent of your total calories for the day. That means you're eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, and potatoes.

Around 25 percent of your daily calories should come from protein, like dairy, meat and legumes, to help feed your muscles. The other 20 percent of your calories comes from fat, either from dairy, meat, nuts or oils.

Read More: Marathon Training Diet

Calories are Key

Hopefully you kept track of calories eaten daily during training to be sure you ate enough. If skimp on calories, you might lose weight and have a hard time recovering. Eating too little takes a toll on the body and can even lead to injuries like stress fractures.

The week before your half-marathon, you'll be training less. Your instinct might also be to eat less to compensate, but that's not a good idea. To get ready for your big event it's important to keep eating the same amount of calories. That way you can store energy and help your muscles recover from weeks or months of training.

Carbohydrates take prominence in a pre-race diet.
Carbohydrates take prominence in a pre-race diet. Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Crave the Carbs

Two days out from the race it's time to eat more carbohydrates. Your body's favorite source of fuel during a run is carbs, so make sure you have plenty stored away. Muscles and your liver store a majority of the carbs in your body in the form of glycogen. This is energy that is ready to be used during your half-marathon.

To stock up on carbs, bump up your intake from 55 percent of your calories to 70 percent. Cut back on the fat and protein by eating less meat, dairy and legumes. Eat more things like sweet potatoes, pasta and bread.

This isn't a lifetime shift in your diet, it's just a short-term change to help your running performance. Don't be afraid to sneak in an occasional treat, like a sugary breakfast cereal or sports drinks, to get all of the carbs you need.

Stomach Safety

In the day before a race, make your meals light to make sure that your stomach doesn't get upset during your run. Avoid meals with too much fat, especially butter and oil. Cutting down on the fiber will also help settle your stomach. High-fiber foods like kale and oatmeal are usually out until after the race, since they are so hard to digest.

Read More: Half Marathon Meal Plan

Water

Water is also extremely important at this point in your race preparation. You should have focused on hydrating adequately throughout training, but now it's imperative.

Try to have around eight glasses of water per day to start hydrating for the race. If you start running and you're already dehydrated, it will be almost impossible for you to make it up during the race. Get ahead of dehydration by drinking more water now.

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