What to Eat Before a Track Meet

Glycogen, a type of sugar preserved in the liver and the muscles, provides the energy that is consumed during a race and determines the power and speed you can produce in a race. It can be obtained through the consumption of carbohydrates. Thus, a pre-race meal must contain a healthy dose of carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen reserves. Drinking plenty of water is also important since carbohydrates cannot be transformed into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles without proper consumption of water. Let's look at what to eat before a track meet to find your own groove.

What You Should Eat Before a Track Meet

Importance of a good pre-meet diet cannot be overstated. The following is a breakdown of what to eat before a track meet and when to eat it.

1. 3-4 Days Before a Track Meet

Don't wait until the last day before the race to eat properly. If you want to be successful in a race, then the 3-4 days before a track meet are crucial for you. You can delay the onset of tired legs, the biggest problem during a race, by eating properly during this time period.

  • The meals you have 3-4 days before your track meet should be low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates.
  • Since dehydrated muscles tend to get fatigued soon and hamper your performance during the race, therefore it is important that you drink at least 12 to 16 ounces of water per meal.
  • Keep the same diet that you have consumed for the whole training season to keep your energy levels even and don't try new foods a week before the race.

2. The Day Before a Track Meet

As you are approaching the big day, eating the right foods and refraining from the bad foods become more important:

  • The meal you eat a day before the track meet can include food items like angel food cake, toast, oranges, bananas, jelly and peanut butter sandwiches, potatoes, noodles, pizza and pasta.
  • Eat a meal that is two-thirds starchy foods (like potatoes, rice and pasta) and one-third protein (like chicken and fish) the night before the race.
  • You should avoid nuts, too much meat, gravies, butter, candies and sodas. Make sure to drink plenty of water with your meals stay away from any kind of sports drinks.

3. On the Day of the Track Meet

Here comes the big day! Follow the suggestions below to get the best scores:

  • Breakfast: On the day of the race, it is important to have a breakfast at least 2 hours before the race so you can digest it properly. For breakfast, you can eat honey, granola bars, waffles and pancakes with syrup, oatmeal, orange juice, bananas, jelly and peanut butter and water; but do avoid peaches, grapes, plums, meat, greasy foods and butter.
  • Before starting the race, it is best to eat a skinless apple and a small piece of cheese. Limit your consumption of water before the race to avoid chances of having "water belly" and instead sip little amounts of water occasionally.
  • During the race, it is important that you supply yourself with food items and drinks like jelly and peanut butter, granola bars, plain chocolate, honey, orange juice, Pedialyte and a good amount of water. However, make sure that you do not consume any sodas, nuts, jams, dairy products, peaches, grapes, plums, meat or energy drinks like Gatorade.
  • Snacks: Prepare some carbohydrate and protein rich snacks on the day of the meet in case you get hungry before the race. Whole grain crackers with cheese or whole wheat bread with turkey are some examples of snacks that can keep you energized during the race.

Note: You can eat jelly and peanut butter sandwiches during the race but are not allowed to have turkey and chicken sandwiches until after the completion of the event.

Other Things to Do Before a Track Meet

Knowing what to eat before a track meet is important but that's not the whole story. There are other things that you can do before a track meet to get yourself ready for the race.

1. Avoid Strenuous Activity Before a Track Meet

Maintain the same training schedule a week before the meet but gradually lessen the intensity of your sessions as the day of the race comes near to avoid chances of having sore muscles.

2. Sleep Properly

Sleeping properly is important for keeping up performance levels, so it is best to sleep for up to 10 hours per day, a week before the meet.

3. Keep a High Morale

Keep your morale high and quell all negative thoughts that you might have by making use of positive affirmations a week before the race.

4. Other Measures You Can Take

Except knowing what to eat before a track meet, you should also know the following tips:

  • Energy gels are far more efficient than regular sports drinks as they have complex sugars, so it is good to have one 15 minutes before the race.
  • To warm yourself up and get blood flowing through your body, start doing a few strides 5 minutes before the start of the race. It will increase your heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).
  • A day before the race, going for an easy run for about 20 minutes is best for long and middle distance runners. Remember not to run too hard though. 
  • It is better not to exercise too much before the race as it will only make you sore on the day of the meet. 
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