Are you working on fulfilling your New Year’s resolution—to run your first race? Or, perhaps you’re an avid, experienced runner that wants to up your game and be in the best shape of your life—and just in time for next week’s Ironman.

Whatever your case may be, it’s likely that you already know the basics of running: the more you fuel your body with the right foods, the more endurance and speed you’ll achieve. Here’s a brief how-to, so that on the day of, you can prepare to win!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

As a runner, you probably know that you have a persistence that most other athletes do not. You push your body past all known limits, and you prepare yourself beforehand for the best internal fight of your life. While the average person needs to consume roughly eight tall glasses of water on the daily, you know that to compete and cross the finish line with your best time ever, hydration is the key to your success!

Man hydrating after outdoor runAs a rule of thumb, start properly hydrating yourself a few days—not a few hours—before race day. A two day juicing fast can help give your body the fiber, vitamins, and magnesium you need to increase strength, while a protein fueled green smoothie (with coconut water for added hydration) on race day can give you the “fuel” your body needs to thrive. If you’re juicing the night or morning of, load it up with greens: kale, celery and/or spinach.

Then, pack on the anti-oxidant rich fruits: strawberries, acai, and raspberries. Steer clear of bottled juice, and pour in coconut water (plain or tropical) for a hydration boost, along with a tablespoon of flax seeds for your omega-3’s. An hour to 90 minutes before the race begins, load up on a tall glass of water—just don’t down it minutes before your race, or you’re lightly to fight that “full” feeling while your competition passes you by!

Fuel Up on Carbs (Without Any of the Guilt!)

There’s few times in life that you can eat carbs without feeling guilty—and race day is one of them! The night before your big race, load up on a dish like spaghetti and meatballs, and a few pieces of bread. If you’re in the mood, have a glass of wine —just don’t go crazy! It’s not fun to start a 5am race when your stomach is full and you have fog brain—due to all those naughty carbs from the night before!

Ploughmans BreakfastOn the morning of your big race, it’s crucial to load up on protein. A carb-rich breakfast is important too, but don’t feast on a second helping of pancakes and a side of hash browns—just because you’re racing. Be sensible, and focus on how you’ll feel afterwards. Grab a few slices of turkey bacon, and help yourself to an egg white omelet with tomatoes, avocado and cheese. Or, grab a slice of whole wheat bread topped with your favorite nut butter. The protein is crucial before racing, because without it you’ll lose speed, and even motivation. And as a runner, you can’t afford to lose either!

No one knows your body better than you do. So, whether you’re about to run in your first 5k or your third Ironman, focus on the foods that make you feel good and most importantly give you the stamina and the energy to persevere to the finish line.  Eat well, drink up, and run the best race of your life!