Dietary Tips for Runners and CEimB Crispy Chicken or Tempeh Fingers

by Joanne on April 7, 2011

With Boston only 12 days away, I thought I’d add a few dietary reminders to ensure feeling your best on the day of the event. Take into account, there is a lot of nervous tension in our bodies when we work ourselves up for a competition so , sometimes, even the best plans don’t work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.  

The tips:

  • Since food should clear the GI tract before the event starts (this prevents cramping), it’s best to eat 2 to 4 hours pre-start time.  This will enhance the livers ability to use glycogen stores. *If eating 4 hours or more, hunger may set in.
  • High carbohydrate choices are best: banana, bagel, bread, dry cereal (milk may cause upset stomach). A very small amount of protein and fat are ok (e.g. 1 tsp peanut butter with the banana).  Fats and proteins take longer than carbohydrates to clear the stomach. Protein also increases urine production, *you’ll need to drink more.
  • Try to eat bland foods since spicy foods and sauces may cause gas and other GI discomforts. *Note: sauces tend to be high in fat.
  • Keep dietary fiber to a minimum the day before and certainly the day OF the event.
  • Meals should be small and not over filling.

Here is a a list of high to low proteins – recommended lower protein choices the day before and day of the event

20 – 25 grams:  (about 3 oz serving) hamburger, steak, pork chop, tuna, turkey, chicken (1/2 breast)

7 –8 grams:  1 oz nuts, 2 TBS peanut butter, 1 egg.  There are other things such as dairy and nuts but dairy can be bothersome and nuts can be too fatty. Just don’t eat anything you don’t normally eat.

2 – 3 grams:  1 slice bread, 1/3 cup rice, 3/4 cup dry cereal, 1/2 small bagel, 1/2 cup pasta, 1 potato.

Here is a list of carbohydrate choices providing approximately 15 grams:

1 slice bread, 1/2 bagel, 1 small waffle, 3 cups popcorn, 1 small apple or banana, 6 crackers, 1 cup berries

More tips: Obviously lots of water the day before.  I like to go for high protein – low carbohydrates a week before the event.  In the final 3 days, I will load up on carbohydrates. Basically a carb-depleting then re-loading method. 

I’d love to hear your dietary tips for a good feeling, race ready tummy!


This week’s Craving Ellie recipe, picked by Jennifer The Rookie Baker, was just perfect for using the Three Grain Tempeh I had in the fridge.


By the way, Jennifer changed the look of her blog. It looks so nice! Good job Jennifer!  …. back to the recipe….

I made the recipe as written:

  • 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut across into 1/2-inch pieces  OR/

  • (1 package of Tempeh – a vegetarian alternative)

  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups Cornflakes – crushed in a plastic bag.  Use a rolling pin or, if you’re feeling exceptionally frustrated, simply pound the crap out of the bag with your fist.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.  Simply dip the tempeh in the buttermilk, no need to soak it.

Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray.   Put two pieces of chicken or tempeh in the bag with the crushed cornflakes and shake to coat.  Place each piece on the baking sheet, in a single layer, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 10 – 15 minutes. Ellie recommends leaving the chicken on the baking sheet to cool slightly so it will get crispier.

Serve with the mustard sauce.

Honey-Mustard Sauce:


1/2 cup mustard (I used spicy honey mustard for my dip)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Low-fat Kefir for my tempeh dip)

2 tablespoons honey.

Mix everything together until smooth. 

By the way, the sauce makes a TERRIFIC dip for pretzels!  I discovered this since I always have to munch while preparing dinner and pretzels are my go-to food.


The Tempeh Version:



The Chicken Version:


There were no complaints about either version of the recipe.  I loved the tempeh with the dip, although it was pretty bland without it. Ted pretty much agreed with me on the blandness but that the dip offered enough pizazz to save the meal. 

The dinner was good, healthy and made enough for both of us to enjoy leftovers.  Next time I make it, I’ll add a bit more flavor to the cornflake coating.

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  • At 2011.04.07 07:45, Heather said:

    Only 12 days???!! It’s SO close!!!!!!!!!! I’m so excited for you!
    That last picture looks delicious with the zucchini and tomatoes. Yum!

    • At 2011.04.07 09:51, Joanne said:

      The count down begins! AHHH!

      • At 2011.04.07 08:11, peggy said:

        Hey – good looking fingers you have there. I would love to try the vegetarian ones. I am making these this morning for Chandler’s lunch today so my post will not be up until noon. Hope you have a great weekend. I hope Marthe gets time to change my pick for next week on the blog so everyone doesn’t make that waldorf wrap! I can’t believe she and I both missed seeing that it had already been done. Good eyes my friend!

        • At 2011.04.07 09:52, Joanne said:

          Chandler will love you for his special lunch today. I’m sure Marthe will get to it. She’s a busy gal.

          • At 2011.04.07 08:58, Bri said:

            Thanks for all the tips on your diet before a race. My hubby is running his first half marathon this weekend and we were wondering what he should be eating one and two days beforehand. So your post was perfect timing! Oh, and the chicken/tempeh fingers look great, too!

            • At 2011.04.07 09:53, Joanne said:

              Bri – good luck to the hubs. He’ll have a blast! The half marathon is such a great distance: enough to be a challenge but not over taxing to the bod.

              • At 2011.04.07 09:40, Jen said:

                Those look delicious! Thanks for all the tips on premarathon eating. I think I have made some mistakes in the past that have caused me trouble. I won’t be doing that again! Milk especially.

                • At 2011.04.07 09:53, Joanne said:

                  Milk will do it every time. I eat yogurt every day yet some days, it STILL gives me problems. You can never tell.

                  • At 2011.04.07 10:23, Kayte said:

                    Both versions look great and both versions of the dip look great…variety is the spice of life! We really enjoyed them as well…we only did the chicken version, tho. Might have to try this other version just to see what that is all about! Great photos. Best wishes on the race.

                    • At 2011.04.07 11:25, Lori said:

                      So close! Wow!

                      On long ride days, I eat a much bigger breakfast. I have to include protein and fat, probably more than most people do. I will do oats a banana with egg whites and a tablespoon of nut butter. I will bonk if I don’t have at least that much before a long ride where it will be 20 miles before we stop for food.

                      I like the idea of honey, yogurt, and mustard for a dip!

                      • At 2011.04.07 21:21, The Rookie Baker said:

                        Your chicken/tempeh fingers look fantastic! I agree that the dip is also wonderful for pretzels…I’m actually enjoying that as an evening snack right now! Best of luck in Boston!

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