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Athletes: What are your pre-game meals and food-rituals?

Whether it works or not, we've all heard about "carbo-loading" before a marathon (or other endurance events).

But what are the other pre-game meals that people believe in and rely on?

Do you have pre-game meals or food-rituals you just have to have before an event?

I used to always have a 7-Eleven nacho before my tennis matches in high school.

But I won't eat anything at least 12 hours before a marathon.

And, I always need a shot of scotch before a chess match ...

Do you have special pre-game meals or food rituals?

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  1. I played soccer throughout high school and college. I never consumed ANY dairy 24 hours before a game. I preferred a hearty soup or stew as the last meal before a game. Basically overall good nutrition and meals that weren't heavy did the trick for me. When playing rugby it was just copious amounts of beer.

    1. I think it may have been partly superstition, but I used to avoid eating before day games (12 or 1 pm) while playing football in HS and college. I did drink quite a bit of black coffee though.

      1. I'm a long-distance cyclist--don't know anything about other types of sports. I don't eat a huge meal the night before an event or a workout because it won't affect glycogen stores--not enough time. I eat normally and try to avoid things that will take a long time to process (steak, rich desserts--note the operative words "try to," I am not always successful). Before an event or workout, I eat things that have carbs that are quickly accessible, usually a nuked potato with butter and Parm. It's the post-event eating that really counts though, although I'm not sure that my post-ride choice of beer is a commendable recovery food.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Erika L

          I'm a long-distance cyclist ...


          So am I.

          How do you refuel on century rides? Or do you? I usu. down half a Twinkie and diluted Mountain Dew if there are any hills after the 70 mile marker.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I have riding partners who ride on Hostess fruit pies and Pop-Tarts (they're the perfect size to fit into jersey pockets and so conveniently come already packaged in those foil envelopes--plus you can find them at any mini-mart). Also frozen toaster waffles sandwiched with peanut butter and bananas. The great thing about participating in any kind of activity is that you get to eat like a teenager afterward!

            1. re: Erika L

              The great thing about participating in any kind of activity is that you get to eat like a teenager afterward!


              You don't even want to know what I eat after a long run or ride ...

              And, y'know, the problem with PopTarts or fruit pies is that they require too much chewing ...

            2. re: ipsedixit

              How do you refuel on century rides? Or do you?
              homemade energy bars. or, on the rare occasions when i'm not prepared with homemade snacks, a Larabar or a handful of yogurt- or chocolate-covered raisins. energy gels and carbonated drinks upset my stomach, and obviously all those packaged high-sugar baked goods and treats are a no-go for me because of the gluten.

          2. I personally would never eat before a game or exercise, But had a coach that would push a pancake/bacon or sausage (maybe 1-2 pancakes at most) before... claimed the sugars , carbs , protein was best mix out there... looking back there was no proof or research done , but sounded correct at 17 and little today too

            1. I sometimes wonder if I do long distance events as an excuse to indulge in starches the night before. I try to have a starch w/ pb in the am but I had a pr in a 10 miler when I wolfed down two mini chic chip muffins. After, I crave meat like a burger. And, I love events tied to wine tasting after.:)

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                And, I love events tied to wine tasting after.:)


                Ever do a bike tour of the CA Wine Country? One of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had. I'd like to do something similar in southern France someday ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  That all sounds great. I have a friend who did that in Italy and said it was amazing. I'm not much of a cyclist, only when forced to in a tri, though I do like it (just not good at it). Maybe I could add wine tasting at the end of my spinning classes--it might quickly increase the participants in class!

                  My dream vacation is to find a running group, nice run in the morning and then eat/cook the rest of the day. That should be my next profession.

                  1. re: chowser

                    If you any type of triathlon, even halves or OLY, then you're more of a cyclist than just about 98% of the population.

                    And trust me, on those cycling vacations, you're not really breaking a sweat. We used to go on thse long night rides when our tour guides left us to our own devices. Nothing like a nice 1/4 century ride to work off all that cheese, lamb, chocolate and wine ...

              2. We did a low budget bike tour. I ate so much peanut butter and bread, it was amazing. That was filtered with granola, homemade energy bars, chocolate bars, cookies, and a surprising number of peaches and tomatoes from farm stands. Dinners were often more farm stand veggies, quinoa, and tomato sauce.

                What strikes me as odd about my relationship to peanut butter is after it constituting about 50-60% of my diet for two weeks, I still like it.

                1. I'm a distance runner and while I don't have any food rituals, I know what I can and can't eat before a run. No roughage -- so no salad for lunch before an afternoon/evening run, etc. I do like to eat something before a race since I can't tolerate gels very well, and I usually stick to easily digestible carbs (dry toast, cereal, oatmeal, bananas, yogurt, that kind of thing).