What To Eat A Week Before A Half Marathon – Healthy Meal Plan Wk 1: The Half Plates Challenge Start the new year with a totally healthy meal plan! This week’s meal plan is full of tips to help you feel better and recipes to keep you and your family full, satisfied, and ready to take on the day.
Katie is a Culinary Professional with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. She has 25 years of experience as a cookbook developer, writer and educator.
What To Eat A Week Before A Half Marathon
Admittedly like everyone else on the block, I’m the first to improve my eating habits before January. The hardest part is knowing what a healthy diet means (it’s unclear even to me, and I’m a registered dietitian).
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Nutrition research seems to shift every day, with one expert recommending a high-fat diet and another saying that going vegan is the answer to all nutrition prayers. Of course, not everyone agrees on what the “correct” diet is. And what works for you may not work for me.
As for what to cook, I personally love whole grains, lean protein foods, plant-based protein sources (tofu, beans, whole grains), quality dairy (hello, kefir, and yogurt), and of course, good non-dairy food (I). (Like everyone else, I’m obsessed with oat milk.)
I usually use olive oil for cooking and eat lots of healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados. I try to control my wine (not always successfully) and when I reach for dessert I pick up a nice, dark chocolate. That’s just me.
What does a healthy diet look like to you: using the basic framework of whole foods? A lot of produce? Eating more than eating out?
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Along these lines, I have a challenge for you. I call it the “half plate” challenge that I started on Instagram last year. Here’s the idea:
For the next week, try to fill at least half of your plate with fruits, vegetables, or both for each meal and snack. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t screw it up every time. Even once or twice a day is a good start.
Take a picture of half a plate of food or snacks to share on our January Reset Challenge Facebook page for a chance to win a prize. Below is a half-plate meal plan to get you started. I chose these recipes because they do a good job of showing that eating “half a plate” is not a dietary prescription. It’s a way to enjoy healthy, delicious food that feels good to you. The week of training before a half marathon is a critical time in your half marathon training plan. The week before is a lot of preparation for your half marathon. This includes physical, mental and logistical preparation. Find out how far to run, what to eat, when to rest, and how to organize half marathon week logistics, in this short before last week’s half marathon checklist !
Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links – these are all products I highly recommend. I do not give advice on this page that I have not tried or used personally!
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You want to start carb loading the week before your half marathon. But be careful, this is not the time to skip any carbs, this is the time to fuel your body with the right amount of healthy carbohydrates to use for your half marathon.
To load carbs healthily in the last week before a half marathon, be intentional. I highly recommend planning your diet the week before the half marathon and knowing exactly what you will eat for each meal for the week.
If you need meal prep ideas for half marathon week, check out my sister’s post on Best Foods for Runners for tons of ideas including healthy carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables.
Remember, you are carb loading, so there is no need to binge, but eat a consistent set of healthy, carbohydrate-rich meals each day, mixed with a series of small meals containing healthy carbs, fruit and vegetables. When it comes time for race day, your body will appreciate every drop of energy you’ve stored up for it!
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Your last meal before race morning is crucial. Pay extra attention to the healthy carb load of this dish. A runner’s favorite dinner is pasta with some bread, vegetables and fruit on the side. I myself eat pasta the night before a big race, usually mixed with bread or toast, sweet potatoes, and fruits and vegetables like berries and carrots.
In addition to eating right, you must make sure that you are always hydrated. Each day leads to your half marathon. Don’t make the mistake of pulling on the water 10 minutes before you start. Try to drink at least 10 glasses of water each day in the week leading up to the race.
Not only will this help you stay hydrated during your race, but it will also help you recover afterwards. Also, a week ahead is a good time to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Keep the water tightly for a week. Reward yourself after crossing the finish line.
*** Includes the downloadable half marathon trackers, checklists, calendars and more training resources!
Runner’s Diet: What To Eat Before, During, And After Running
Your last long run (and should be scheduled according to a 16-week half marathon training calendar) should be less than a week before race day. Don’t try to cram in a long run less than a week before your half marathon. The quality of your training is more important than the quantity at this stage. You need to rest and fully recover for race day.
That said, several days away from half marathon race day, you can go for a fast run, keeping your mileage to no more than 2 or 3 miles, at a slower pace. You’re not going for speed or a personal record this time, just for fun. Think of it as rotating your legs in preparation.
If you feel like another rest day is more important than a short run, give yourself a grace pass. There were weeks leading up to the half marathon where I skipped the last short run day and opted instead for a rest day, or a rail day, or a short walk. Listen to your body this time.
Regardless of whether you participated in a short, leisurely run in the week leading up to the half marathon, rest and relax. Don’t overdo it!
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You should still be cross-training in the week leading up to the half marathon. Do some yoga or pilates, go for a bike ride or long walk, do some light indoor HIIT exercise, etc. But make sure you don’t push yourself or overdo it in your cross training. Take it easy and relax.
The rest is very important. That’s why you should not only stop your long run the week before the half marathon, but also increase your rest.
As you can see in my own 16-week half marathon training calendar, there is an extra rest day in the training week before the half marathon. Make sure you take this break seriously. Eat healthy, hydrate, and REST.
Check out the course at the end. Find out where the mountains are. Know where the aid stations are. Visualize yourself running the course. If you plan to fuel mid-race with gels or snacks, know what to expect when and where you plan to do so.
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What is your irrigation plan? Do you only use help sites? Then you might want one of these waste-free, eco-friendly mugs.
Carrying a hydration system on your person like my favorite Camelback Running Hydration Pack with internal water bladder and storage pockets? Or is this a water bottle belt?
What will the weather be like on race day? It doesn’t hurt to start researching a week before the half marathon, to prepare things you need for the weather, like special gear. Knowing the expected weather and temperature will help you evaluate what clothing and equipment to bring, both during and after your race.
Do you expect layers to be shed depending on the weather forecast? Remember, the morning of race day you may start cold, but after several hours you will warm up without the need for layers. If so, are there places on the course to drop rows?
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Think you’ll be cold while waiting at the start line, but will it be okay when you start your run? You might want to buy a pair of cheap sweatpants (that you won’t lose) to wear in the starting corrals, which you can immediately peel off when you’re ready to take it off.
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