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What to Eat Before a Mud Run: 19 Pre-Obstacle Race Meals

6 Aug 2012

Obstacle Pre-Race Meal

If you’ve been training with a purpose, then you know the importance of proper obstacle race nutrition. Fueling adequately and properly plays a critical role in helping you endure your rigorous workouts and recovery afterwards. But what you eat before the race is just as critical.

Your pre-mud run nutrition will vary depending on your race length. If your run is less than one hour, what you normally eat before your workout should provide enough energy for your event.

A longer race like the Tough Mudder requires more sustenance. You may need to have both a pre-game meal and a snack right before and/or during your race like an energy shake or gel.

Overall, your pre-race meal is not the time to focus on getting ripped or weight loss as you will need more carbs than protein to fuel your race. Try to have your pre-race meal about 3 hours before your event. Be sure to keep in mind your travel time.

Here are 19 pre-race meal ideas.

Pre-Obstacle Race Meal Shakes

If nerves may get the best of you before a race, you may consider having your pre-game meal in liquid form. I prefer making my own at home. You can get better, less processed nutrition from a homemade shake.

Keep in mind your pre-race meal isn’t the time to experiment with new foods and food combinations. If any of these shakes are new to you, I’d recommend trying them as a pre or post-workout meal first to make sure they sit well with you.

These are some of my picks.

1. Banana Shake

1 Banana
Protein Powder
1 Tablespoon peanut or almond butter or 1 Tablespoon flax or chia
1 c low-fat milk (cow, soy, or almond) or 1 c water

Bananas are often listed as the go-to food to include in most pre-event meals. Why? They have a high potassium & carb content, and you’ll need both to fuel your obstacle race.

If you decide to substitute another fruit for your pre-race meals, keep in mind these two components. There’s about 422 mg of potassium in one medium banana. Other high potassium fruits:

Cantaloupe (473 mg per cup)
Kiwi (520 mg per cup)
Honeydew (404 mg per cup)
Fresh apricots (401 mg per cup)
Papaya (360 mg per cup)
Oranges (300 mg per cup)

For protein powder, I usually use Jay Robb Whey Powder.

2. Nutella Shake

½ -1 whole Banana
1 T Nutella
Protein Powder or ½ c low-fat cottage cheese
1 c low-fat milk (cow, soy, or almond)

3. Kiwi-Blueberry Shake

1 c Kiwi
1 c Blueberries (frozen or raw)
Protein Powder or ½ c low-fat cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon Flax or Chia
1 c low-fat milk (cow, soy, or almond) or water

You can also substitute a banana in place of kiwis.

FYI: 1 c of blueberries have about 100 mg potassium.

4. Shakeology: Greenberry

Beachbody’s Shakeology mix can be a decent pre-workout snack by itself mixed in with water. But as a pre-race meal, I like to add fruit. The Greenberry mix can go well with just about any potassium-dense fruit.

5. Shakeology: Chocolate

If you like chocolate, then you’ll probably prefer the chocolate-flavored Shakeology over Greenberry. I find this shake goes best with banana and/or berries. It’s also tastier with milk than water.

6. The Hobie Call

Multiple Spartan Race winner Hobie Call recently shared his pre-race shake with Outside magazine: wheat grass, honey, ½ scoop protein powder, 1 banana, and two raw eggs. If you can’t stomach raw eggs, you can substitute with a full scoop of protein powder.

7. Create Your Own

If none of these shake ideas sound appealing to you, you can always experiment with your own. Try to include these components in your pre-race meal replacement shake:

Protein Powder or other protein source
Fruit high in potassium
1 c water or low-fat milk
PB, almond Butter, chia or flax (about 0.5-Tablespoon)

A lot of pre-race meals don’t include a good high-fat ingredient or component. But I think it’s not a bad idea to include. It may help you feel satiated if you’re eating a few hours before an event.

Also, some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. So regularly including chia and flax in your diet may help alleviate some post-race soreness.

Other Pre-Obstacle Race Meals

8. Oatmeal

A pre-race meal of oatmeal and fruit can provide you with the carbs and potassium you’ll need for your race. Oatmeal can be paired up with bananas, kiwis, apricots, and papayas. I’ll usually have a hard-boiled egg or two as well with this meal. Instead of eggs, some people prefer to mix in protein powder with oatmeal.

9. Cold Cereal

My cold cereal of choice pre-game is Cheerios. I’ll have it with banana and strawberry slices. And for protein, you can add one or two hardboiled eggs.

10. PB or AB Sandwich

A peanut or almond butter sandwich with whole grain toast or bagel can be good for afternoon race. Some like to add bananas. You can also have a cup of milk for some added protein and sugars.

11. Morning Rounds with PB, Banana + Milk

I covered Morning Rounds in a previous post on quick breakfast ideas. They’re good with peanut or almond butter and bananas. Milk also goes well with this.

12. Morning Rounds with Fruit & Hard-Boiled Egg

For the non-nut butter and banana fan, you can have morning rounds as you would have a 1-2 slices of toast for breakfast. Have dry or with low-fat butter. You can include some high potassium fruit and a hard-boiled egg.

13. Low-Fat Yogurt with Fruit + Granola

Yogurt isn’t normally my pick for a pre-race meal, but some prefer this as a source of protein over eggs or milk for breakfast.

14. Low-Fat Yogurt with Fruit + 1-2 Slices of Toast

If you don’t like granola, you can substitute whole-grain toast with fresh preserves or low-fat butter.

15. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese with Fruit + Granola

A half cup of low-fat cottage cheese has protein comparable to two eggs and one serving of Greek yogurt. If you’ve stayed away from cottage cheese because curds gross you out, try whipped — it’s the only cottage cheese I have.

16. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese with Fruit + 1-2 Slices of Toast

This is similar to the second low-fat yogurt with fruit option listed above.

17. Pre-Event Bars: What to Look For

If you’re short on time, bars can be a good alternative for a pre-race snack. Keep in mind that a bar may not be as filling as a solid or concentrated liquid meal. So you may want to have a bar closer to your race time.

As a pre-event snack, it’s best to go with a bar having a higher carb content from organic grains and/or fruits. It should also have some protein and fat. There’s no need to fill up on fiber pre-race, especially if you are not used to consuming fiber-rich foods.

I’m a Cliff Bar fan, so these are a couple of my favorites.

18. Bars: Cliff (Original)

I find the Cliff bar to be a good alternative if you have race day jitters, but prefer solid food. They have a higher carb content than protein bars, which is what you’ll need for your race.

19. Bar: Mojo

The Mojo bars are sweet and salty energy bars by the Cliff bar company. They have fewer carbs than the original Cliff bar, which won’t provide enough energy if you have a longer race, but may be good enough for a shorter challenge.

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind for your pre-race meal is to choose what’s most familiar to you. Don’t experiment with something new on race day. The last thing you want is a bad pre-event meal to keep you from enjoying and finishing your obstacle race!

What do you have for your pre-mud run meal?


Nutrition information from SELF Nutrition Data.
Image provided by Worapol Sittiphaet.

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8 thoughts on “What to Eat Before a Mud Run: 19 Pre-Obstacle Race Meals

  1. Melissa, loved this article and love your site. I definitely will be back as I am in the process of training for the Spartan Beast. Love the Shakeology and you can never go wrong with PB and J! Definitely going to try some of these!

  2. Hi Jared, thanks for reading and commenting. Best of luck and have fun with the Spartan Beast! Be sure to bring some energy gels with you – you may need it for this one! I hear Hammer Nutrition makes a good one.

  3. Very nice write Melissa. Your article helped me to define my carb loading for Tough Mudder Austin this Saturday.

  4. Thanks – good to hear the article was helpful :). Good luck with the Tough Mudder!

  5. Thanks alot of this article, I get pre race jitters so the different smoothie options are great! Tough Mudder on Sunday!

  6. Hi Amanda,
    Good to hear this was helpful. Good luck with the Tough Mudder!

  7. Glad it was helpful. Shakeology’s a great, healthy snack! Hope you like it.

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