I competed in my first 10km Canberra Times Fun Run when I was 13 years old. I won’t be there this year (as I have a four month old baby and many more core strengthening exercises to do) but I will be there in spirit. So here are my top tips to help you get that PB!

  1. Down your dinner

Most runners I work with put a lot of thought and planning into race day nutrition. Sports drinks, gels and a pre-race snack are the most common nutrition strategies I hear about. However, for a 5 or 10km run, most runners won’t need any fuel during their event. That’s because your body should have ample stores of carbohydrate in the muscle and liver from the day before. To make sure your muscles are locked and loaded well before the start line, make sure you include good carbohydrate choices for dinner the night before such as:

  • Rice, pasta or noodles
  • Bread, cereal
  • Potato or sweet potato
  • Lentils or legumes
  • Milk or yoghurt
  1. Breakfast of champions

Another safety net to make sure you have enough energy stores for the event, is to have a final top up at breakfast. Science suggests we need at least 1g carbohydrate per kilo of body weight at our pre-race meal to make sure we have saturated our muscles with glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate), which will be our main fuel source. For a 70kg runner, this means a minimum of:

  • 2 slices of bread with 2 tablespoons of honey OR
  • 1 cup Nutrigrain with a cup of milk and a banana
  1. Settle your nerves

If you suffer from pre-race jitters, it’s important to try low-fibre, low fat and low protein meal and snack options. Some common ideas include:

  • White bread with sliced banana
  • Up&Go or smoothie
  1. Drink enough – but not too much

Your fluid needs will vary from race to race depending on the intensity of the run, the weather and your clothing choices. The aim for any runner is to prevent a weight loss of more than 2 per cent of your body weight during the race. And weight gain is detrimental too. So be sure to practice your hydration needs well before race day.

  1. Repair and Recover

If you want to get back to training, it’s important that you repair and recover using food. After your race:

  • Replace any lost fluid from the run (electrolyte drinks might speed this up)
  • Include some carbohydrate in your recovery meals (milk, yoghurt, bread, pasta, fruit, muffins). This will reload your muscles with fuel again.
  • Include some good-quality protein choices to repair your muscle damage (milk, lean meat, chicken, cheese, yoghurt).

Most importantly – good luck and have fun!

What’s your favourite pre-race dinner? I’d love to hear about it.