Running competitions often take place in the morning and can disrupt your routine! Just as training should be tested in the morning, you should also train your digestive system to tolerate certain foods early in the morning. Tell yourself that unlike in training situations, there will be stress that will upset your digestion a little (or a lot)!
Here are some tips on getting enough energy without eating too much on competition morning
Eating according to digestion time
Each runner has a different pace and each runner digests differently! Carbohydrates are the fastest digestible nutrients (and the preferred source of energy for muscles during exercise), followed by protein and finally fat. A full meal that includes all of these nutrients can take 3 to 4 hours to digest, while a high carbohydrate or liquid snack can take only a few minutes.
What you choose on the morning of a competition will depend on, among other things:
- the time you have between the meal and the effort
- the duration of the competition and the temperature
- of your ability to digest the foods that you will have tested beforehand in training
As for the amount of carbohydrate to consume, aim for 1 g of carbohydrate / kg of body weight per hour before the event. So, for a 60 kg individual who intends to eat 2 hours before leaving, he will need 120 g of carbohydrates (see example below). *
Have breakfast early!
On the morning of a race, get up a little earlier than expected to have enough time to eat and digest before the start time. Take the time to chew your food well (remember that digestion begins in the mouth!).
Outsmart the stress!
For those who have difficulty eating in the morning of a competition due to stress, 3 options are available to you:
- Split your lunch into 2: take half when you wake up and the rest 1 hour or 1h30 later before the competition.
- Eat several “snacks”: let the typical breakfast go and take small portions of several foods: 1 muffin, 1 piece of fruit, 1 glass of milk or soy beverage, 1 slice of bread with peanut butter and banana, 1 plain yogurt with maple syrup, etc.
- Consume liquid foods. Since liquids (or mashed foods) are easier to digest, you can substitute your usual meal with mashed fruit, yogurts or smoothies. The advantage of the smoothie is that you can add whatever you like to the mix. This means sources of carbohydrates and proteins of your choice: fruits, compote, maple syrup, Greek yogurt, milk, soy drink , peanut or almond butter, oat bran or flakes, etc.
Test your breakfast formula BEFORE the big day
Whether it is in relation to your equipment, your tactics, your technique or your diet, you will always be told to test for changes in training and not in competition. So try your breakfast in training to limit stress on the morning of D-Day. In addition, by eating a known breakfast, you limit the risk of suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort.
Finally, here’s what a breakfast with around 120g of carbohydrate might look like:
- 1 bagel + 2 tablespoons of jam and a little peanut butter + 1 cup of orane juice + ½ to ¾ cup of yogurt + ½ banana OR
- 1 cup of muesli cereal + 1 cup of milk or soy beverage + 1 cup of fruit compote + 2 tbsp. maple syrup or honey OR
- ½ cup of dry oatmeal cooked with milk or soy beverage + 2 tbsp. maple syrup or brown sugar + 1 banana + 1 cup orange juice
It’s up to you to find your own winning combination!
* Those consuming a low-carb diet should also test their typical pre-competition lunch in previous workouts. They may need a longer time between lunch and the start of the race to promote good digestion.