4 foods runners should avoid before a race

New Balance ambassador AJ Odudu

This content has been created in collaboration with New Balance.

Ahead of a race it can be hard to find a balance between fuelling yourself sufficiently and avoiding any, er, unwanted pitstops.

We spoke to fitness blogger and New Balance ambassador AJ Odudu (@ajodudu) about the four things she cuts out before a race.

1/ Refined sugars

Processed sugar is never a nutritional hero, but before a race it’s particularly damaging. You’ll get a short energy buzz followed by an inevitable motivation-smashing lull.

“I know a lot of people have breakfast bars, but I personally stay clear of unnatural sugars because they make me peak and dip too much on the run,” says AJ.

Natural sugars are another matter. On the morning of a race, AJ has a banana for its high fructose sugar content and carbs.

When your body working at its peak, as it tends to be when you’re running at race pace, it uses its glycogen stores. And that’s where carb loading comes in…

2/ Nothing but carbs

While binging on carbs the night before a race is the clichéd reward for all your months of training, it’s not a good idea to eat exclusively beige food.

Your body needs the minerals it gets from fruits and vegetables – magnesium found in the green stuff is a great energy booster – and your muscles rely on protein.

Make like AJ and go for something like a chilli con carne with brown rice for your pre-race evening meal. But a little of what you fancy is fine, too. “I’ll usually treat myself to a blueberry muffin,” says AJ. Go on. You deserve it.

3/ Spicy food

If you do mimic AJ and opt for chilli, ensure you go easy on the spice. It’s important to avoid anything that can aggravate your digestive system.

A very spicy curry may be delicious on the night but the last thing you want is to find yourself on the start line remembering that vindaloo for all the wrong reasons.

4/ Coffee

Coffee can present another challenge for your digestion. It’s a notorious diuretic that causes a lot of people to need to visit the bathroom almost instantly.

If you do need a caffeine hit on the morning of race day, make sure you get it in early. AJ opts for tea and drinks it a good few hours before the race.

Just careful not to go too early: coffee within the first hour of rising will mess with your body’s natural cortisol levels.

In other words, if you have an early morning race, you may have to skip that cup of Joe. Let the adrenaline see you through.

New Balance Toughest Opponent is a story about the battles we have within ourselves. The niggling mind games that play out between our ears that make us question whether to run that extra mile, to lift that heavier weight, or to go forward and push harder, faster and stronger than we did the day before. Find out more at: http://www.newbalance.co.uk/TougestOpponent.

You are your toughest opponent.