Over the last year and a half or so, I have tested out numerous foods in that breakfast / pre-run timeslot. I have a somewhat sensitive stomach, so I need to have something solid inside me prior to ingesting the typical high carb gels. Banana’s are a pretty safe food for me, but there are limits to how many I can eat. Fatty foods are a big no-no, and any kind of cereal that requires milk is off limits (who takes dairy before a big run?). After so many attempts to find the ideal pre-race meal, the one food that I keep coming back to, that satisfies my hunger without upsetting my stomach, is oatmeal. It’s both basic and filling, provides the right level of carbs and protein to sustain my body during the run.
I typically make my oatmeal the night before, using the traditional method of boiling water with a pinch of salt and then adding the old fashioned oats. As a rule I avoid the instant oatmeal because of the excess sugar which, when mixed with high carb gels, can cause unpleasant intestinal issues (you know what I mean)! Once it’s thick enough, I put it into a container and refrigerate until the morning. Cold oatmeal doesn’t bother me, and pre-making it the night before saves valuable time in the morning that could be better spent stretching or sleeping. Whether eating hold or cold, I like to top my oatmeal off with some honey, mini kisses, and mixed nuts if available. Altogether it’s a pretty appetizing breakfast and has yet to lead to stomach issues prior to or during the race.
A single serving of oatmeal (made with Quaker Oats or something similar) contains approximately 3g of fat, 27g of carbs, and 5g of protein. With a healthy dose of carbs for lunch the day before, that’s the ideal platform and source of fuel for a problem free run!
Every runner has their own race day routine – a very personal, but essential process of preparing for a run that they have developed over a long period of time. Like most runners, I learned over time how to best prepare for a race. For my first race, I arrived at the start late and barely had time to register and warm up before the starters gun sounded. These days, I plan ahead and leave enough time to get the start and stretch.
For my second race, I forgot my running socks and ended the race with some serious chaffing on my undercarriage. After months of training and numerous different running outfits, I settled on one that I feel most comfortable in and now I set that aside a few days in advance. On race day, I know where my gear is and I know it’s clean – I don’t have to stress over my preparations and I know I will be comfortable during the run.
Some runners suffer from chub rub, the result of the thighs rubbing against each other throughout a long run. I use compression shorts to avoid that unpleasant experience, but that has actually led to another problem. Chaffing on that part of the undercarriage between the front plumbing and the back plumbing. The first time it happened to me I didn’t notice until I got home and stood under a hot shower – the stinging pain shot through me like a hot knife and it was quite painful to sit for a couple of hours. Vaseline has become an essential part of my running kit now, and before a long run of competitive race I rub a generous amount in that area to help keep my sensitive regions in good shape.
One of my most challenging aspects of the race day routine is ensuring regularity and managing my bowel movements. Sure, it’s not a glamorous topic and one that many people will avoid talking about – but a friend and I happened to get into it recently when we both had similar experiences of running with a full load. It seems like there’s no single way to ensure the timing of a bathroom visit pre-race, but there are common runners tricks that you can try. For instance, I am now in the habit of getting up 90 minutes before a run and drinking a cup of coffee first thing. After 20/30 minutes getting ready, I am ready to visit the bathroom. I also drink a lot of water the night before, and again during the night when I wake up and have to pee. The regular hydration encourages bowel movements. In addition, I have started using pepto-bismol or tums to settle my stomach and avoid a bathroom break during the race.
One last thing … two Aleve before I leave my place helps to keep the knee pains at bay.