Fuel Smart for Race Day...
Go Faster Food Tips for Race Day Nutrition
Take extra care about what you eat during the few days before a race and you’ll stand more chance of maximising your performance, especially if you are planning an endurance race, be it a half-marathon, triathlon, marathon or etape, or an ultra-endurance race such as an ironman or ultra-run.
It is widely accepted that carbo-loading can enhance your performance during an endurance race. Your body can store enough carbohydrate to keep you going for approximately 90 minutes, after which your body has to resort to burning fat reserves for energy and this is likely to slow you down. You need to ‘super-fuel’ your muscles to ensure that your glycogen levels are at their optimum for race day.
Take it easy and follow the tapering advice on your training schedule. If you taper correctly, the carbohydrate in your muscles will be stored for the big day rather than used during heavy training sessions.
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Nutritionally-formulated meal plans and delicious recipes to help you go further, faster.FuelSmart for Race Day
Take a look at FuelSmart for Race Day for detailed information about what to eat during the three days before an event. You’ll find plenty of delicious Go Faster Food recipes to choose from, all of which have been nutritionally- formulated to provide the optimum level of carbohydrate and protein needed for effective carbo-loading.
During the three days before the event, increase the amount of carbohydrate in your diet from 60% to 70%. This will maximise the glycogen in your muscles.
Concentrate on eating meals based on low to medium G.I. carbohydrates and on drinking plenty of fluids during the week before the race. In the last 3 to 4 days, really make sure that you drink regularly – three litres of fluid a day is good – you will enjoy the race more and run better if your body is fully hydrated.
(You won’t really need to carbo-load particularly before shorter races, such as 5km or 10km; just focus on a healthy low to medium G.I, and balanced diet, a good amount of sleep, relaxation and general ‘looking after yourself’ during the week before the race.)
The Day Before
Stick to what you are familiar with – don’t try anything new which might upset your stomach.
Drink lots of water throughout the day – be careful to stop quite early so that this does not interfere with a good night’s sleep
Eat a decent lunch and supper, something easy to cook and light on the stomach.
Don’t overeat – you don’t want indigestion to keep you up the night before a race!
Avoid alcohol or keep to the very minimum.
Don’t do too much exercise – a light jog or cycle is fine but avoid an ‘eyeballs out’ training run, a 15 mile hike or even a large supermarket shop!
Eat a good breakfast and have plenty to drink about 2-3 hours before the start and again, stick to what you are familiar with. If the race starts at 9.30, eat breakfast at about 7-7.30. If the race starts after lunch, have a very early lunch (a light meal of pasta and tomato sauce, for instance).
DON’T try anything new at this stage or your stomach may regret it!
Drink plenty as soon as you get up in the morning; you can find out if you are properly hydrated by checking that your urine is a pale straw colour. After your initial big drink, just sip little and often on water or a sports drink on your way to the race.
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the race start. You may want to take an extra snack with you to have while you are waiting (a banana, a flapjack, a honey sandwich). If you are doing a triathlon, or a long race, make sure you take plenty of fuel to keep you going and use what you have done in your training.
Go to the toilet before you leave for the race. However good the toilet facilities at the race start are, there will invariably be a queue.
Enjoy the Race
Don’t forget to take on the water or sports drink provided during the race and stick to the “fast-acting carb” strategy you have tried out in training (gels/sports beans etc).
You’ve trained hard for this – enjoy the atmosphere and go for it!
Remember the 15 minute magic window! Eat a high G.I. snack and have a good drink immediately after the race to aid your recovery. You may not feel like it but it really does help. Your body may be crying out for salty foods if it has been a sweaty run. Go home, shower and then treat yourself to a good meal as soon as you can …. You deserve it!
Keep drinking plenty of water throughout the day and don’t drink too much alcohol – your body needs time to recover.