In fact, 41 percent of runners have had stomach problems ruin a long run or race, according to a recent poll of runnersworld followers. But, experts say, most issues are preventable—if you follow these guidelines about fuelling for your race...
Do eat a real meal.
Have both protein and carbs, like an egg or peanut butter with toast, three to four hours before go-time. “It will help keep your blood sugar steady throughout the morning and keep you from feeling hungry or sluggish right before the race,” says Majumdar.
Do have your normal dose of caffeine.
Research finds that athletes who consume prerace caffeine perform better than those who don’t, but having more than usual on race morning can cause jitters and/or GI distress.
Do choose carbs wisely.
Slow-releasing carbs will sustain your energy levels longer than simple sugars, but most (like whole grains) are high in —a definite race-morning don’t. One exception? Quick-cooking oatmeal, which is faster digesting. Just try it in training first, says Shallal. She also likes the sports drink Generation UCAN, which is made with a slow-releasing starch. She suggests drinking a serving 30 minutes before a big run.
Do rise and shine.
Get up at least three hours before the start so you have time to eat, drink, and use the bathroom. Aim to be at the starting area at least an hour in advance—earlier if it’s a large race—to get your bearings and use the bathroom again.
Do get in line.
Once at the race, line up for a porta-potty, even if you don’t need to go. Nature may call by the time you get to the front. Head into the corrals 15 minutes before go-time—you may be required to line up sooner at a large event.
Don’t overdo it on liquid calories.
It’s fine to sip a sports drink before your run, but factor those carbs into your fuelling plan. “If you eat a real breakfast, you don’t need 20 ounces of Gatorade, especially if you’re running less than a marathon,” says Majumdar. “It’s easy to consume way more calories than you need before the race even starts.”
Don’t start with a sloshy stomach.
Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water three to four hours before the start, says Majumdar. Hit the porta-potty so you don’t start with a full bladder. Half an hour before the gun, have five to 10 ounces of water or sports drink.
Don’t try anything new.
Just because you’re away from home or you scored free gel samples at the expo, don’t try anything you haven’t used for other long runs. “This rule holds true for everyone,” says Hogan.
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This article originally appeared on Men's Health