Training for a 5K race takes weeks of preparation, and what you eat before, after and during the race can be just as important as your physical training.
What to Eat Before the Race
Just as you are training your body before the race, you should also be paying careful attention to the foods that you put into your body. As early as three weeks before the race you should be focusing on eating a diet that consists about 50-60% of your caloric intake being complex carbohydrates.
But it is not all about carbs before the race. Fluid intake is very important too. You need to take extra care to stay hydrated during your 5K training, and the day before the race you should increase your carbohydrate to 70% of your caloric intake and double your water intake.
What to Eat During the Race
On the day of the race you are going to want to make certain that you only eat or drink those foods or liquids that you are used to, this is no time to be trying out new things on your digestive system. During the last three weeks you should have been getting an idea as to what foods give you the most energy, so at least four hours before the race, give yourself a nice large, high-carbohydrate breakfast (avoid too many proteins or too much grease). But make certain that you give your stomach 2-3 hours rest before the start of the race. Some people find that several small meals before the race sit better with them than one large meal.
The hour before the race go ahead and snack on some things that you know your body will be able to handle; energy or granola bars are an excellent choice. However, if you have discovered that you get nauseated if you eat immediately before running, don’t force yourself to eat anything.
Do, however, drink frequently. You should drink at least 2-3 cups of water at least two hours before the race, another two cups 15 minutes before, and at least one cup every 15 minutes during the race itself.
It is recommended that if the race is going to last longer than 60-90 minutes, you should be drinking fluids that contain carbohydrate and sodium. There are a number of sports drinks available on the market that meet these standards. Again, you should have tried some of these out before hand to make certain that your body is able to tolerate them well.
What to Eat After the Race
After the race it is very important that you be able to replenish your fluid levels. Lots of water and sports drinks rich in electrolytes are recommended. As far as eating goes, your body will re-establish its carbohydrate stores fastest if you eat within two hours of the race so, if you can stomach it, eat another high-carbohydrate meal as soon as possible after your run.