Hackney Half fitness tips with personal trainer Matt Smith: Pre-race nutrition

PUBLISHED: 18:04 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:04 26 April 2018

Personal trainer Matty Smith. Picture: Polly Hancock

Personal trainer Matty Smith. Picture: Polly Hancock


Matt Smith is training the Gazette running team for the Hackney Half. He will be giving readers regular fitness tips to help in their own preparation or just inspire them to get off the sofa. This week, what to eat – and when.

Now is a good time to start thinking about pre race nutrition.

Your body is like a car: it can only can only fit so much fuel in the tank before it starts to overflow. But what you can do is make sure you’ve got the engine cleaned and the fuel converters primed to take care of the fuel you’re giving it. It’s a questionable analogy but stay with me.

The old-school belief of eating a massive carb-based meal the night before your race is not actually a great plan. It makes you heavier and more sluggish and is likely to hinder your performance the next day – full tank, dirty engine.

But in the week run-up to the half marathon (your taper week) what you can do is slightly increase your carb intake for one meal per day – usually in the evening or post training.

Also in this time make sure your hydration levels are on point, so plenty of water.

This allows the body time to fill its energy stores in the liver and muscle without causing you to hold on to too much bulk that will leave you bloated and sluggish – full tank, clean engine. Car runs smoother and more efficiently.

Now is also a good time to play with your pre-race nutrition. Simple things such as honey on toast or peanut butter on a bagel. These give a mixed nutrition source of slow/fast release energy for your body to use.

And remember to make use of the hydration stations and the lovely people handing out sweets to keep you going en route.

• Dalston man Matt trains clients at Fitness First in Liverpool Street station. E-mail him on or visit

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