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Fuel Your Way To Fast No Matter The Race Distance

Sometimes it’s tough to keep track of everything you need on race morning. Is your favorite sports bra in the laundry? Where did you put that race bib? Is your watch fully charged? To take one thing off your proverbial plate, we’ve developed an easy guide to race-day eating. Lauren Antonucci, RDN, the founding director of Nutrition Energy NYC, has the perfect meal plan for every distance. If you’re running a 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon, we have the ideal eats to fuel you through the finish line and beyond.

The Race: 5K

2 hours before: Toast with jelly and banana, plus 16 oz. water*. Fuel up with some easily digestible carbs.

During: Nothing. You’re running too fast! But if it’s hot, grab some water along the course.

30 minutes after: Low-fat yogurt. A little snack with protein will help recovery.

1 hour after: A real meal, like a veggie omelet and a piece of fruit. Replenish your body with healthy fuel.

*Attention coffee drinkers: Feel free to combo water and coffee for your pre-race ounces of liquid.

The Race: 10K

2 hours before: Oatmeal with raisins and sliced banana, plus 16 oz. water*. You need time to digest enough carbs to run this distance.

During: Water from aid stations as needed. Sip on a sports drink if it’s hot or if the race takes you longer than one hour.

30 minutes after: Lean turkey on whole wheat bread with avocado, plus an orange. This combo of carbs, protein and fat will help you really focus on recovery.

*Attention coffee drinkers: Feel free to combo water and coffee for your pre-race ounces of liquid.

The Race: Half Marathon

3 hours before: Peanut butter on a bagel and a banana, plus 16 oz. water*. In addition to carbs, you want fat to slow digestion so you still have fuel on the run.

During: 8 to 12 oz. water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes, 1 gel packet every 30 to 45 minutes. The idea is to take in what you sweat out.

30 minutes after: Protein shake and kale chips. You need salt and antioxidant-rich produce for recovery.

2 hours after: Full meal, like pancakes, eggs, turkey sausage and fruit. Brunch time with your running cohorts!

*Attention coffee drinkers: Feel free to combo water and coffee for your pre-race ounces of liquid.

The Race: Marathon

3 hours before: Bagel with peanut butter and raisins, plus a banana and 16 oz. water*. It’s easy to digest, and the fat will help you maintain energy while you run.

5 to 15 minutes before: Energy drink. Top off your tank with simple carbs.

During: 8 to 12 oz. water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes, 1 gel packet every 30 to 45 minutes. Take in the maximum amount of carbs your body (and tummy) can handle.

30 minutes after: Egg wrap and V8 juice. Salt and protein are both needed after 26.2 miles.

Every 2 hours until going to bed: Small meals, like a spinach salad with salmon. Eat mini-meals that include anti-inflammatory foods, such as olives, avocado, nuts and fish.

*Attention coffee drinkers: Feel free to combo water and coffee for your pre-race ounces of liquid.

Nicki Miller

Nicki Miller is the managing editor for Women's Running and spearheads our nutrition coverage. She’s an avid runner but also loves cycling (both on and off-road), yoga and all kinds of crazy videos to do at home. Formerly the editor of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Nicki started her journalism career at The Washington Post. Her first races were duathlons (run, bike, run) in her twenties with her husband, and then triathlons, completing the White Lake Half Ironman in North Carolina. Since joining Women’s Running in 2013, she’s been more focused on half marathons and trail running. Some of her proudest moments have been running the Boston Marathon (first 26.2), and becoming an RRCA certified running coach and helping others take up the sport.