Food, Glorious Food! Our Bloggers Reveal Their Favorite Meals—Before and After a Race
One of the most important things for marathoners is their meal the night before the race. Some runners like to experiment for weeks, carb-loading before their long runs in an effort to finalize the perfect go-to meal. For those arriving to NYC for the TCS New York City Marathon, the city offers multiple—almost too many—food choices for them to get their pre-race fix. Our expert team of bloggers reveal their favorite pre-marathon meals, as well as some essential advice for those who have still not settled on their Saturday night meal.
If there’s one thing I enjoy more than running, it’s eating. In the days leading up to a race, I typically carb-load on rice and pasta, but the night before a race, I always top up my glycogen stores with pizza—and the TCS NYC Marathon takes place in the pizza capital of the world (just don’t tell Manhattanites the pizza in Brooklyn is better, or vice versa).
Before you start mapping out all the best pizza spots in NYC, make sure you’re not trying something new the night before your race. If your go-to meal before a race is rice or pasta, don’t attempt to eat something your body may not be happy with. Save the pizza for the post-race reward.
Speaking of post-race meals, mine is usually a beer. While I’m ravenous after a race, I can’t sit down and eat a large meal. However, once the euphoria of completing a marathon wears off, I’m often chasing the beer down with a burger.
Do What’s Best for You
As someone with a digestive disease and an insanely fussy stomach, figuring out pre-race and race-day nutrition has always been a challenge for me.
But a few years ago, I learned exactly what makes me happy the night before a marathon. It's Outback Steakhouse. Now before you dismiss this totally authentic Australian hot spot, let me tell you that they cook those steaks perfectly every single time.
My go-to order is two pieces of the [free] warm brown bread with a little bit of butter, a 6 oz. Victoria's Filet (medium rare), a baked potato with a little bit of butter, and a side of asparagus (which it charges $1 extra for, but it's worth it).
But ultimately, it doesn't matter what I eat or what anyone else eats: It only matters what you eat the night before a race.
Getting inspiration from others is great and it's tempting to just go ahead and eat whatever Shalane Flanagan eats the night before she races. But experiment and find what works for you.
If that's a piece of salmon and brown rice, great. If that's a chocolate lava cake and three scoops of ice cream, do it. And, for me, post-race is always a box—yeah, a box—of Levain Bakery cookies. It's my tradition, and I am hoping to one day be sponsored by Levain Bakery. Who can help me make this happen?
Dedication Before, Burger Afterward
Prepping for race day starts the week before, with high carbs and proper hydration. The night before, I have potatoes with chicken and spinach, plus a drink that has electrolytes in it.
My go-to meal after the race is a burger with fries, most likely from Shake Shack. Marathon training also requires dedication when it comes to the diet, which is why a simple burger is something I’m really looking forward to after finishing the 26.2 miles.
Pizza, Pizza, and More Pizza
One of my favorite parts of marathon training—and racing—is eating all the pizza. For carb-loading before a race, I try to eat a little healthier and usually make pasta with chickpeas and an olive oil, lemon, and garlic sauce.
And down lots of water. After long runs and marathons, I love celebrating and refueling with pizza, especially thick crust pizza. One of my go-to’s is grandma-style pizza and I also have a weakness for Chicago deep-dish. While training for the NYC Marathon, I ate a whole deep dish pizza after my 18-mile run, and it was glorious. Lately, after long runs, I've also been loving Screamer's vegan pizza in Brooklyn.
Satisfied, but Not Full
The night before a race, I eat exactly what I have ate before my long runs. As I’ve said before, this is not the time to try new things.
You’ll hear people say eat carbs—maybe a plate of pasta, but what works for me is grilled chicken, quinoa, avocado, and some sweet potato. I like to go to bed feeling satisfied, but not too full.
In the morning, I will have a bagel with avocado and coffee at home. I’ll also pack some food to carry with me and eat in the race village. You may be there for an hour or more before starting the race, so you’ll want to be prepared with food beyond your race nutrition so that you’re not hungry at the start.
Post race, literally anything goes. I find that immediately after, my body won’t let me eat, so I usually wait a few hours and then basically eat anything I want because why not.
Keep It Simple
I keep it simple with pasta. I always try to make it at home or go out to a local Italian. I will have a tomato-based sauce with some veggies and protein. If you are visiting from out of town, I highly recommend going to Eataly for some fresh pasta or pizza. My go-to meal after the race is Shake Shack! There is nothing better than salty crinkle fries, a cheeseburger, and a milkshake after running 26.2 miles!
Looking for a good carb-load on Saturday, November 3? Then join NYRR for a pre-race dinner prepared by the chefs from Tavern on the Green. It is served buffet-style and is family-friendly. Gluten-free options are available. Enjoy a live pre-race broadcast from the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion and music entertainment. Click here for more information.