What you eat before and during a race day has a huge impact on your energy levels and your ability to perform at top rate. Just check out Monica’s post on her half-marathon carb loading fail (found here). Truth is, race nutrition differs for everyone but there are a few general principles that can be applied to all athletes.
1. Don’t try anything new.
We’ve all heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating: don’t try eating anything new during a race. Your stomach is a finicky thing and gastric distress is not something you want to mess around with. So if you’ve never had the brand of goo gels that they’re passing out, don’t eat them. Instead, pack energy treats that are tried, tested and true.
2. Eat a lot the day before.
My motto is “eat lots and eat often”. Have snacks on hand and start with a big breakfast. You might be nervous by dinnertime and nerves have a horrible effect on our appetites. That being said, don’t eat too much (I know it’s sort of two sided advice) buuuuut there is such thing as eating too much. I mean stay full but don’t go all Thanksgiving on me and eat until you need to be rolled into your bed. That’s just dumb.
3. Avoid anything with too much fiber
Lets be gross for a second; fibre gets thing a movin’. Before engaging in exercise, you want to be sure you won’t have to make any unnecessary stops at the port-a-potty. Instead, I like to sick to simple carbs the night before a race and the morning of. Carbohydrates are important when you’re doing long hours of endurance exercise. In fact, if you don’t eat them, you can expect to feel pretty bad.
4. Eat clean
I usually treat myself to chocolate and a glass of wine
everyday every once in a while, but the week before a race I’m a clean eating machine. I want to keep my energy levels high and nothing makes me feel better than fresh fruit and veggies. I down fresh pressed juice, eat raw meals like it’s my job and I’ll avoid all alcohol.
5. Pack more snacks for the race than you might expect.
It’s always better to have too much than too little. Carry more than you think you’ll need because your body might surprise you and be ravenous.
6. Drink water the week before.
Let me tell you a little story. When I was younger, I was really into classical music. The week before a big audition, my singing coach told me to start drinking 1.5 litres of water every day. Naturally, I didn’t listen to her and come audition day, I thought I could make up for my mistake but downing tons of water. My quick fix did little to hydrate me and instead, I spent the entire day running to the bathroom. Point is, hydration is a slow process and once you’re dehydrated, you can’t just chug water and expect to remedy the problem in a matter of minutes. Stay ahead of the game and start early. Now I carry around two big water bottles and I make sure to finish them both by the end of the work day. Hydration here I come!
7. Learn to eat a big breakfast in the morning.
I’ve heard tons of people say they can’t eat breakfast in the morning. Most races start between 7 am and 9 am so you’re going to need to learn to down a solid breakfast. I usually wake up at least 2 hours before the race start time, eat a big breakfast and still have time to digest. Be smart and stick to something that’s carb heavy and little to no soluable fibre. My go to is a white bagel with peanut butter and banana. Yum.
What are your nutrition tips? What do you eat the morning before a big race?