What I Ate the Night Before My Half Marathon

Hi friends! I’ve been getting some questions lately about pre-race fuel in terms of what to eat the night before a race, so I thought I’d share what I had the night before the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon on Saturday. Remember, though, that what works for me might not necessarily work for you. :)

Some tips for your meal the night before a race:

  1. Incorporate both protein (meat, beans, fish, etc.) + carbs (a grain or starchy vegetable like potato) to adequately fuel you up.
  2. Don’t have anything too crazy high in fiber (aka mass quantities of raw veggies) or anything too greasy/heavy.
  3. Don’t eat anything out of the ordinary. Never had Indian before? This is probably not the best time to give it a shot.
  4. Lay off the booze. It can dehydrate you and lead to GI issues, too.

Here’s what I had on Friday night: pasta with a tomato-y meat sauce and veggies.


I generally stick with pasta the night before a race, although I have had success with quinoa + salmon in the past.

In terms of the pasta, I like to mix it up, sometimes doing whole wheat, sometimes a brown rice or alternative grain, and sometimes rocking quinoa pasta (it’s quinoa + corn), like I did on Friday.


For my protein, I again like to mix it up, but generally I go for either ground beef or turkey, chicken, or salmon the night before a race. On Friday, I went with ground beef. Tip: buy grass feed, organic beef. Several studies have shown that the nutrient content of pasture-raised animal products is superior to that of grain-fed animal products – not only do they have higher levels of vitamins and other micronutrients, but they also have a more favorable fatty acid profile, with higher amounts of omega-3. Grain feeding animals has been shown to deplete their omega-3 levels.


On the veggie front, I chopped up some peppers and mushrooms and sautéed them in a pan with some oil, garlic, and a small handful of kale.


Once the meat was fully cooked (I browned it in a separate pan), I added it to the now softened veggies.


Then, I poured in some jarred marinara sauce.


Once the pasta was ready, dinner was served! Hit. The. Spot. And fueled me up well, too!


What’s your go-to night before a race or big run meal?


  1. 1

    I tend to go with pasta too and maybe some meatballs. But usually skip veggies and anything too acidy….i wouldn’t be able to have tomato sauce the night before a race because I have a tendency to get heartburn from running.

    I might just use a light dusting of parmesan cheese and a small amount of butter or chicken broth.

    Of course there was this one time I ran the Philly Marathon and I was going to be staying at my friend’s apartment since she was out of town and her place was walking distance to the start. But she had nothing in her fridge. I had brought with me my favorite pre-race morning fuel which are Superpretzel soft pretzels. So I had 2 for dinner. And then I had another the next morning and I had a super race.

  2. 3

    For me, it’s the standard spaghetti and meatballs with a simple side salad and garlic bread. So typical, so cliche, but it works for me! I tend to have some GI issues when it comes to long distance, so per your recommendations, I have to stay away from anything too creamy, greasy or fiber filled.

  3. 4

    I normally eat a pasta dish but do so at lunch time, saving a smaller meal for dinner like a bowl of oatmeal. For me it gives my body that much for time to digest the larger portion of food.

  4. 5

    It seems like everyone goes for pasta the night before a race, but it never sits well for me. So my go-to is usually pizza (especially Sicilian) or a turkey BLT (hold the mayo). I’ve been trying to break out more, experimenting the night before long runs with rice and potatoes, too.
    I like Jeffrey’s idea (above) about eating a larger meal at lunch instead of dinner…smart! I’ll definitely have to try that! :)

  5. 6

    Once I start running longer distances my digestion likes to freak out, so I have to keep things as plain as possible. Baked/grilled chicken and a sweet potato are usually my go to. Pasta is also good, but I try not have too much sauce. Idk what it is about those longer distances, but my stomach will randomly freak out and then I have to run to the woods!

  6. 7

    I have pretty much exactly the same thing, plus a small salad and maybe some garlic bread (hard to resist)… always wanted to try salmon the night before though. Totally agree that what works for one person might not work for another!

  7. 8

    lay off the booze. #oops

  8. 10
    Roadrunner says

    Thanks for answering the question that so many of us had! Looks very tasty, by the way…

  9. 11

    I ran my 3 half marathons with friends, so we made it a special treat to go out for pasta the night before the races. I try to stick to something safe and have always had good luck with classic spaghetti and meatballs! Thinking about that meal gets me through tough training runs too – haha!

  10. 13

    I also had pasta the evening before the race. I’m a vegetarian, so I sauteed some mushrooms with garlic and capers, then added in some marinara sauce. Tossed with some spaghetti and a healthy sprinkle of cheese, and I had a big bowl of carbohydrates to fuel me through the rain.

  11. 14

    I usually go with pasta with my friends for the whole week. I like to carbo load a week before the race. After that marathon I will be hating pasta for a while. Haha

  12. 15
    Stephanie says

    Pizza! Cheese or sometimes loaded with veggies. I must not have a very sensitive stomach.

  13. 16

    Any excuse to eat pasta is welcome, you know how I roll ;)

  14. 17

    Definitely something with carbs, but I don’t eat tons of it. I like spaghetti… and not something that’s loaded with fiber (so no beans) for me. In general though, I have a fairly resilient stomach, so I just eat something carb-ish and something carb-ish in the morning.

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