There are many thoughts on this and, to a large extent, it depends on you as an individual. As they get older many veteran runners find they have to be a little more careful about what they eat and drink before and during races. General principles are to make sure you are well fed in the days beforehand; some load up on pasta, others fruit for example. Most runners do not eat large amounts in the 2-4 hours before a race but may have their own special bits of food. Taking energy gels while running is usually a matter of personal taste and in races up to half marathon distance are not essential so long as you eat shortly after you finish the run. Also be well hydrated; your ‘pee’ should be a light straw colour before the race and not dark brown. It takes a while for fluid to enter your body from the gut especially if the adrenaline is flowing. Some runners take in very little water during a half marathon, while others drink little and often throughout the race. Water is fine and best for most runners, but if you have a favourite energy drink that doesn’t slosh around too much in your stomach do use it. When you finish the race take on fluids immediately but do it slowly rather than gulp large amounts all at once. In the 24 hours after the race your body will be burning energy and getting fluids to the right places so drink and eat plenty, you have earnt it.
Peter Davis MBE Race Team Coordinator – Newark Half Marathon