The Final 48: What to Eat in Hours Leading Up to Race Day


You’ve logged your miles, practiced your routine and picked up your packet; now, with two days to go before the race you’ve been training for months for, all you can do is wait. Oh, and eat.

While many athletes focus on their food intake just the day before a race, research finds that what you eat 48 hours before a big endurance event will impact performance. Switching to meals with “whole food carbohydrates,” such as rice, quinoa, root vegetables and fruit on the last two days is very important, says Steve Grant, a leading Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner.  “This will help replenish any lost muscle glycogen, and ensure you are fully refueled before the big day,” he told The Telegraph.

Here’s some quick, must-know tips:

  • Main factors causing fatigue during competition are fuel depletion and dehydration, according to the Huffington Post
  • Your last big meal should be two nights before race day – a night-before carbo-load might leave you feeling bloated at the start line
  • Consuming low fiber foods, reducing high protein or high fat foods and using compact liquid carbohydrate foods over the last 12-24 hours before the event can help to reduce the risk of stomach upset during the race
  • Just like the golden rule of: “don’t try anything new on race day,” don’t try any new foods on race week.

Obviously, nutrition is much more complex than that, so we’ve compiled several recipes of meals and snacks, specifying when they should be eaten for the days leading up to your race. Many of these can be made ahead of time to avoid spending all your time in the kitchen, and try these meals weeks leading up to the race. And, goes without saying, every meal should be paired with water to hydrate!

1Two Days Before Race Day – Breakfast 

Whether you’re a planning light, recovery activity or this day is a rest day, start your day off with this energy-boosting oatmeal to start the carb-load.

Creamy Coconut Matcha Oatmeal


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut


  1. Add water, coconut water and oats into a small saucepan. Bring the waters to boil, reduce to simmer and continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in coconut flour, syrup and matcha. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture has reached your desired consistency. Fold in the shredded coconut.
  3. Divide equally between two bowls. Top with your toppings of choice!

Source: Simply Quinoa

2Two Days Before Race Day – Snack 

Need a little something-something to get you from the morning to afternoon? Try this classic fruit smoothie to tide you over while aiding in your fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant intake.

Mango Smoothie


  • 1 large mango, diced and chilled
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 6 ice cubes 


Blend the orange juice, yogurt, and banana until well mixed. Add ice and mango, continue blending until the mango is mixed in.

Source: VeryWillFit

3Two Days Before Race Day – Lunch 

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

The carbo-load continues. This light soup will give you protein, carbs and vegetables without leaving you completely stuffed for the rest of the day. If you want some green in your diet, add a side salad. This recipe was a favorite of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team!

Thai Chicken Soup


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut into 2 1/2-by-1/4-inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 quart plus 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, bottom third only, peeled, smashed, and cut into 2-inch pieces, or three 3-inch-by-1/4-inch strips lemon zest
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thirds
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (15-ounce can)
  • 2 fresh red chiles or jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. In a medium glass dish or stainless-steel pan, combine the chicken strips with the fish sauce and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the broth, lemongrass, and ginger to a simmer. Add the rice; simmer until the rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the chicken and marinade and cook until the chicken is just done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chiles and cilantro.

Source: Food and Wine

4Two Days Before Race Day – Dinner 

It’s time for some pasta! As mentioned above, this should be your last heavy meal before the big race. So, let’s go all out with this hearty lasagna recipe.

Hearty Lasagna


  • 340g dried lasagna sheets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 450g minced beef (or sausage, or a mix)
  • 1.35L tomato pasta sauce or chopped tomatoes
  • 170g tomato paste
  • Handful chopped fresh basil
  • Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 425g ricotta cheese
  • 225g mozzarella, grated
  • 225g mozzarella, sliced
  • 50g grated pecorino cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 190C.
  2. Cook the lasagna sheets according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside in a single layer on baking paper.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Add the meat and cook, stirring, for five minutes or until browned.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and herbs, and stir to combine.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
  7. Spoon ¼ of the sauce into a 35cm x 7.5cm x 25cm dish. Top with a layer of pasta sheets, followed by ⅓of the remaining sauce, making sure all the sheets are well covered.
  8. Layer with ⅓each of ricotta and mozzarella. Repeat twice, to create three layers. Top with mozzarella and pecorino.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
  10. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then serve.

Source: Runners World

5The Day Before – Breakfast 

You should do as little activity possible on this day, and consume foods that are high in grains in protein, but on the lighter side.

Apple Banana Oat Muffins


  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-natural applesauce
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat organic yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour (or almond meal; this is just finely ground almonds)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a regular-sized muffin tin evenly with cooking spray.

Peel bananas and break into two-inch chunks in a large bowl. Mash bananas with a fork. Add brown sugar to the bananas and whisk with fork until well combined. Add applesauce, almond milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.

Source: ACTIVE 

6The Day Before – Lunch

Get your greens going with this light and refreshing salad with salmon for some additional protein.

Quinoa & Roasted Salmon Salad


  • Leafy greens
  • Cooked quinoa (~1/2 to 3/4 cup per serving)
  • 1 cooked salmon filet
  • Diced apple
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing


Mix it all together! Add in avocado, nuts or other toppings to your liking.

Source: Fannetastic Food

7The Day Before – Dinner

It’s recommended to eat dinner a little earlier on the night before a race so you can go to bed earlier, and be fully digested in the morning. While some carbohydrates are good, get more proteins and vegetables to fill you up; this turkey burger has all of the above.

Classic Paleo Turkey Burger


  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach or arugula
  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. Add the ground turkey, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, coriander, cayenne, and green onions to a large bowl and stir to combine. Use your hands to form into burger patties.
  2. Heat the grill to medium-high heat and cook the burgers for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Serve the burgers over sliced tomato, spinach, and avocado.

Source: Paleo Grubs

8The Day Before – Dessert

If you followed our above advice and ate dinner earlier, you might feel like you need a little something sweet to hold you over until the morning. These salty and sweet snacks use protein powder instead of flower, and can be made several days in advance.

Chocolate-Covered Protein Pretzels


  • ½ cup(s) vanilla whey protein powder
  • ⅛ cup coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 5 square dark chocolate


  1. In a bowl, mix together the whey, coconut oil, coconut flour, and milk until you get dough. Make sure your coconut oil is melted before you do this, by the way. (If it isn’t, just stick it in the microwave for a few seconds).
  2. Roll out the dough on a nonstick cookie tray or on top of some baking parchment.
  3. Get out your pretzel cutter, and cut out 14 pretzel shapes.
  4. Bake the pretzels on a nonstick cookie tray or on top of baking parchment at 320 F (160 C) for about 10 minutes, or until they’re cooked though but not super hard. You don’t want to bake them to death. They shouldn’t brown at all; they just need to cook through.
  5. Melt your chocolate in a bain marie (a glass bowl on top of a pot of boiling water) or double boiler, and dip the pretzels in there. Decorate by sprinkling with candy chunks, chocolate flakes, or honeycomb. I added some strawberry sprinkles; they’re awesome because they add crunchiness to the pretzel, which is delicious.
  6. Put the pretzels in the fridge for a couple of hours or the freezer for 30 minutes and they’re ready!

Source: Body Building

9Race Day – Breakfast

It’s important to wake up early on race day to give yourself time to eat and digest a meal of sustenance. It’s recommended to eat three hours before start time, so your digestive system can do its thing. This recipe can even be made the night before, and paired with yogurt or a banana in the morning.

Healthy Stovetop Granola


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • ½ cup seeds or roughly chopped nuts (I used a mix of sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Melt the coconut oil on a pan over medium heat. Once melted add the oats and nuts/seeds. Make sure everything is coated in the coconut oil. Let this toast for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn the heat down slightly then add the salt, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir until everything is incorporated and toast for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. It may bubble a little bit. Turn down the heat if it seems like it in burning.
  • Spread granola on parchment paper to cool and now you’re all set to enjoy it! The granola will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Source: Minneapolis Running


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