Here’s a look at how pro runners fuel before, during and after a race. 

Kara Goucher

The 2007 world champs bronze medalist in the 10,000-meter run and 37-year-old who is sponsored by Oiselle, Skechers, Nuun and Soleus watches, spends the week leading up to a marathon hydrating and building carb stores with plain white foods. Here’s what she ate before, during and after taking third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials:

Pre-Race Dinner

  • Rolls, rice, chicken and grilled vegetables

Race-Day Breakfast

  • Banana, instant apple-cinnamon oatmeal, a couple of cups of coffee

Race Fuel

  • Nuun Energy with B vitamins to help turn carbohydrates into accessible fuel

Post-Race

  • Nuun All Day Hydration and water
  • Three hours after: club sandwich

Post-Race Treat

  • Nachos

Scott Jurek

Here’s how the vegan 41-year-old seven-time winner of the Western States 100 and American record holder in the 24-hour run fuels before, during and after an ultra event:

Pre-Race dinner

  • 2 servings tempeh tacos with corn tortillas, 1-2 cups brown or white rice, 10-12 ounces water, 3 ounces vegan dark chocolate

Race-Day Breakfast

  • 3-4 servings of a smoothie, 6-8 ounces soy or coconut milk yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons hemp protein powder, banana, 10-12 ounces water

Race Fuel

  • 20-30 ounces water or Clif Shot electrolyte drink per hour
  • 1 Clif Shot gel or 3 Clif Bloks every 20-30 minutes

OR

  • bananas, potatoes, licorice, bean and rice burrito, rice balls, hummus wrap (see sidebar)
  • Crystalized ginger or ginger capsules to ease stomach discomfort, 1 Succeed electrolyte capsule and 1 calcium-magnesium capsule per hour

Post-Race

  • 20 minutes after: 75 grams Clif Shot electrolyte drink and 15-20 grams of brown rice and pea protein powder mixed with 30 ounces water, banana, 1 Clif Kit’s Organic bar
  • 45-60 minutes after: bean and rice burrito or hummus wrap

Post-Race Treat

  • Carob chia pudding

Alissa McKaig

The 29-year-old member of the ZAP Fitness post-collegiate training team achieved a five-minute PR and placed eighth at the 2012 Olympic marathon trials; here’s what the gluten-intolerant runner consumed before, during and after the race:

Pre-race Dinner

  • gluten-free spaghetti with broccoli, chicken and potatoes

Race-Day Breakfast

  • Dry cereal, banana, peanut butter, coffee
  • 20 minutes prior to the horn: 1 gel

Race Fuel

  • Water and one gel starting at 10K and again every 10K

Post-Race

  • Banana, protein bar, Gatorade and water

Post-Race Treat

  • Soda and celebratory drinks with teammates

Ryan Hall

The 33-year-old American record holder in the half-marathon and fastest American marathoner ever normally eats nutrient-dense meals, but strays from fibrous foods the day before a race. Here’s what he consumed prior to finishing second in the 2012 Olympic marathon trials:

Pre-Race Dinner

  • Brown-rice pasta with olive oil and cake batter-flavored Muscle Milk (broken into two meals)

Race-Day Breakfast

  • Muscle Milk shake with Cytocarb mixed in a 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio
  • Just before horn: 1 gel packet

Race Fuel

  • Six bottles of Cytomax (he sips 5 to 8 ounces) and two bottles mixed with gels and water

Post-Race

  • Fruit, “and whatever else I can get my hands on—lots of food”

Post-Race Treat

  • Cinnamon rolls

Jason Hartmann

Don’t be fooled by his frame that’s larger than most distance runners—this 34-year-old former professional runner knows how to manage hot conditions. He achieved his PR at the 2010 Chicago Marathon, the hottest race there in 20 years, and finished fourth at the brutally warm and humid Boston Marathon this year. Here’s how he did it:

Pre-Race Dinner

  • 3 cups of pasta and an ice cream bar
  • At 9 p.m.: granola bar and bread

Race-day breakfast

  • Three hours before the start: three plain bagels and a bottle of water
  • Ninety minutes before the start: bagel and banana

Race Fuel

  • Every 5K: alternate 4 ounces of water with Gatorade Endurance mixed with water
  • Every 10K: gel

Post-Race

  • Immediately after: fluids
  • A few hours after: salad, hamburger, ice cream bar, “and a lot of desserts”