Race Day Prep from a Coach: Q & A with Professional Running Coach and Olympian, Jeff Galloway

As a member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff Galloway competed against the world's best athletes in Europe, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. He broke the U.S. 10-mile record (47:49) in 1973 and has a 6-mile best of 27:21. Among his victories are the Peachtree Road Race, Honolulu Marathon, Atlanta Marathon, and top place finisher in many prominent U.S. races such as the Boston Marathon.

Jeff is the founder of the Galloway Marathon Training Program and has coached over 200,000 runners and walkers. He's also the author of North America's best selling running book, Galloway's Book on Running, and is a monthly columnist for Runner's World magazine.

MindBodyGreen: What food recommendations do you have for Friday? (2 days before race)

Jeff Galloway: Avoid foods that could possibly irritate the gut. Don't overeat, but most runners I've heard from on this issue don't have problems with a "normal" diet, two days before.

MBG: What do you recommend as far as running on Friday?

JG: Some runners take off one day before a marathon and some take two days. It doesn't matter either way. If your last run is on Friday, I recommend a very slow and easy run of no more than 3 miles.

MBG: Do you recommend running on Saturday? (Day before race)

JG: I don't recommend running the day before a marathon.

MBG: What food recommendations do you have for Saturday? (Breakfast / lunch / dinner)

JG: I have a suggested eating plan in my books, particularly Galloway Training Programs. The best eating plan is that which has been successful the day before long training runs, for the individual. Avoid eating much after about 2pm the day before. It is fine to snack on easily-digestible foods every 2-3 hours. Avoid salty food, avoid alcohol – avoid foods that take a long time to digest. Drink 8 glasses of water, juice or an electrolyte beverage.

MBG: What do you recommend for Sunday breakfast? (Day of race)

JG: Most runners don't need to eat anything. I explain in my book, A Year Round Plan, and others that it takes at least 36 hours for almost all of the food you eat to be digested and available for running. Some runners eat because it gives them a comfort level as they wait for the start. Others get nauseous with even a small snack. Do what works for you. Fluids should be consumed long enough before the start so that you can hit the potty before the start.

MBG: What type of warm-up do you recommend for Sunday?

JG: For most, walking to the start is a good enough pre-start warm-up. Because of the crowds, you can use the first few miles as a gentle warm-up, because you cannot get into a good rhythm anyway.

MBG: What type of cool down do you recommend post-race?

JG: Keep moving! Don't stand around, and hopefully you won't be lying on the ground. As you sip 6-8 oz of fluid and get some snacks to eat, walk around for 10-20 minutes at least. Many races have extended exit strategies and this may actually help you recover faster.

MBG: What about food after the race?

JG: There's a recovery plan in my book, A Year Round Plan. Drink about 6-8 oz of water or electrolyte beverage about every 20-30 minutes for the next 3 hours. Continue to drink a glass of water every 45-60 minutes until bedtime. To speed up the reloading of the glycogen in your muscles it is crucial to eat a re-loading meal of ~300 calories. Research shows that the best composition of this is 80% simple carbohydrate and 20% protein. The product Endurox R4 contains this formula. Within 3 hours of the finish, try to soak your legs in a cool tub. Water temperature should be at least 20 degrees lower than body temperature. Most cool water taps deliver water at this temperature, but feel free to add ice for a more invigorating experience (I don't).

For more on Jeff Galloway:


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