The Top 3 High Carb Pre-Race Meals

Warning: Use of undefined constant W3TC_DYNAMIC_SECURITY - assumed 'W3TC_DYNAMIC_SECURITY' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /homepages/16/d442858503/htdocs/runningwearplanet/modules/69254061/adrotate-functions.php on line 32

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats supply your body with energy while you are running. There are two primary types of carbohydrates, complex and simple.

Complex carbohydrates are digested at a steady rate and provide consistent fuel for your body throughout a race.  Examples of complex carbohydrates include lasagna, cereals, pastas, grains and potatoes.

Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, honey, fruit and milk, are quickly digested and provide an immediate spike of energy.

Both simple and complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and stored in your muscles as glycogen during digestion.  When you exercise, the stored glycogen is converted to glucose for energy.  Marathoners and endurance runners consume meals with high quantities of carbohydrates to sustain their energy, while sprinters may rely on consuming simple carbohydrates prior to a race.


Marathoner or Endurance Runner

Consuming high quantities of carbohydrates prior to a long run may provide performance-enhancing benefits to an endurance runner.  For example, endurance runners consuming a high-carbohydrate diet can generally run longer than runners consuming a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, according to a 2011 study published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.”

Runners engaging in long-distance runs, such as a marathon or triathlon, can optimize their performance by consuming high-carbohydrate meals prior to a race or a long training session.  High-carbohydrate meals only yield performance benefits to a runner during runs lasting longer than 90 minutes.


Meal Plans

Complex carbohydrates need to compose at least 70 percent of an endurance runner’s meals before a race.  Protein, fat and simple carbohydrates should make up the remaining 30 percent of the nutrients.  Incorporating high amounts of complex carbohydrates into your meal plan may seem challenging, but I will highlight the top 5 high carb meals to consume before a race.

Pre-Race Meal

A marathoner or endurance runner may benefit from consuming a high-carbohydrate meal three to four hours prior to a long-distance race.  A pre-race meal includes at least 70 percent carbohydrates and 900 calories which prepares a marathoner or an endurance runner for his race without overstimulating the digestive system.  Try to choose familiar foods that are low in fiber for your pre-event meal, as you do not want any gastrointestinal surprises on race day.

Below are the top 3 high carb pre-race meals for a marathoner or endurance runner.  Note that in the listed meals below, in order to acquire the minimum amount of calories, carbohydrates, and protein, each person would need to consume at least two servings.


1.  Capellini with Chicken, Broccoli, and Pecorino Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

Running Health Capellini with Chicken, Brocolli, Pecorino Cheese

Nutritional Information:

Calories per serving:   415
Fat per serving:   9g
Saturated fat per serving:   2g
Protein per serving:   30g
Carbohydrates per serving:   55g
Fiber per serving:   6g
Sodium per serving:   435mg




1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces boneless skinless chicken thigh meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced very fine
1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried) thyme, minced
2 1/2 cups broccoli, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup hot water
8 ounces capellini pasta
4 tablespoons pecorino cheese, freshly grated
Salt to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add chicken and cook over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Add garlic and thyme and cook 30 seconds more. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
  2. Add broccoli to pan and saute for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup hot water and cover. Cook about 4 minutes, until broccoli is slightly soft. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  3. Add chicken to broccoli and remove pan from heat. When pasta is done, drain and add to pan. Stir and sprinkle with cheese.


2.  Linguine With Shrimp, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers

Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size:  1  3/4 cups)

Running Health MealNutritional Information:

Calories per serving:   410
Fat per serving:   8g
Saturated fat per serving:   1g
Monounsaturated fat per serving:  5g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving:  1g
Protein per serving:   25g
Carbohydrates per serving:   58g
Fiber per serving:   3g
Iron per serving:  5mg
Sodium per serving:   448mg



12 ounces large shrimp, peeled and devined (about 16)
1/4 teaspoon salt    (or salt to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves
10 ounce uncooked linguine
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup clam juice
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic;  cook 1–2 minutes or until golden.

2. Add linguine to water; cook 11 minutes or until al dente.  Add shrimp to skillet, and cook on high 2–3 minutes or until golden. Transfer garlic and shrimp to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Add tomatoes and next 3 ingredients (through capers) to skillet; cook 5–6 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in shrimp and garlic and two-thirds parsley. Drain pasta; return to pot. Toss shrimp and sauce with pasta. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with remaining parsley.


3.  Vegetable Lasagna

Yield:  Makes 8 servings

Running Vegetable Lasagna Meal

Nutritional Information:

Calories per serving:   360
Fat per serving:   4.5g
Saturated fat per serving:   2g
Monounsaturated fat per serving:  3.5g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving:  1g
Protein per serving:   16g
Carbohydrates per serving:   62g
Fiber per serving:   7g
Iron per serving:  2mg
Sodium per serving:   435mg



7 oz lowfat goat cheese
1/3 cup chopped pitted black olives
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups prepared pasta sauce (low sodium)
1 lb whole-wheat lasagna
Freshly ground black pepper
2 small zucchini, diced
2 small summer squash, diced
3/4 cup bottled roasted red pepper, diced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


1.  Heat oven to 375°F.

2.  Mix goat cheese, olives, thyme, basil, oregano, and garlic in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

3.  Spread 1 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of an 8" x 11" baking dish. Add one layer of lasagna and season with black pepper.

4.  Add a layer of zucchini, squash, and red pepper. Dollop spoonfuls of goat cheese mixture over vegetables and spread to cover. Repeat layers.  Finish with pasta and sauce.

5.  Sprinkle Parmesan on top, cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.

6.  Uncover and bake 5 minutes or until top browns. Let stand 10 minutes; serve.



Which pre-race meals do you usually prepare or eat before a half-marathon/marathon and how well does your body perform with this meal on race day?





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 1 = 3

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>