What to Eat Before Running a Race

Have a smoothie made with 1 cup coconut water, 1∕2 cup tart cherry juice, 1∕2 cup blueberries, 1 frozen banana, and 2 teaspoons flaxseed oil

Why coconut water and cherry juice?

A smoothie an hour before you stand at the start line can power up your run. "It's easily digested and provides much-needed hydration," says Ashley Koff, R.D., a Los Angeles-based dietitian. Coconut water is rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps prevent cramps. And tart cherry juice helps reduce inflammation, which may prevent muscle damage and soreness. One study from Oregon Health & Science University found that runners who downed coconut water before the equivalent of a half marathon felt less pain during their race.

Why blueberries?

A handful of blueberries will add a fruity flavor- and can keep you from feeling run-down. They contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that halt damage to muscles and may also stave off post-race soreness.

Why banana?

For a thick, creamy consistency-and plenty of easily digestible carbs-toss a frozen banana into the blender. "It will give you instant fuel," says Koff. "And it provides sweetness."

Why flaxseed oil?

To breathe easier during your race, mix in flaxseed oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. In a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, athletes who took a daily supplement of the healthy fat for three months experienced a nearly 50 percent improvement in their lung capacity during exercise.

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