The big race is coming up. You’ve been training hard for months, and all the early mornings, vomit inducing high intensity sessions and (painful) massages are about to pay off. Nutrition wise, you’ve got it sorted for during the race; you’ve listened to your sports dietitian’s advice and practiced away, and know exactly when to have that gel/bar/sandwich/drink during the event.
One question I know the MaccaX team is super interested in though relates to fueling up in the days leading up to a race. If we go back quite a few years, advice was based around reducing carb intake, then significantly increasing it in the days leading in to an event. Then it seemed to almost mean eating as much carbs as possible in the days leading up. This isn’t always necessarily the case.
See below for my top tips on pre race nutrition, a few days prior to the race.
Nothing new on race day (or the day before)
Just like you’ve practiced your race day nutrition, and you won’t introduce anything new, pre-race should be exactly the same. If you’ve never eaten or drunk something, I wouldn’t suggest having it the day before your big day. I’d suggest you ensure you have practiced the below strategies a number of times in training, so you know what strategies will work for you, and as such improve your confidence in your ability to smash your race.
Throughout the course of the week prior to your race, ensuring adequate hydration is maintained is essential. Being even slightly dehydrated going into your race will negatively impact your performance. Keep water with you to sip on throughout the day, and as the day gets closer, you may want to add some sports drink into the mix (see point 4).
Get enough sleep!
I know this is not ‘nutrition’, but getting enough rest each night directly impacts your ability to perform. Being tired = reduced performance. For this reason, aim to keep caffeine to earlier in the day, avoid screens from phones/laptops and TVs for at least an hour before bed. Check out the other post I’ve written on foods that affect sleep here for more tips!
Yep, you do need to increase your carb intake in the days leading up. Current research says to aim to start this 2-3 days before hand, aiming for approx. 10-12g per kilogram per day is the rule of thumb. However, this can add up to huge quantities of carbohydrate. Whilst it is important to keep this number in mind (and if you’re comfortable, hit it), it doesn’t mean gorging on as much food as you can stuff in. Being comfortable with what you have consumed is most important.
Whilst the above may make you think ‘oooh… donuts’ (with the hearty eyes emoji), filling up on high-sugar high-fat choices is only likely to make you feel sluggish. Oats, bread, pasta, rice, fruit and some dairy products are my favorites, and adding sports drink to that the day before also helps with hydration as well. Plus, drinks won’t fill you up as much as many of the higher carb foods will, making it easier to get a bit more in.
Why do I like recommending these foods? Because hopefully, they have been the types of foods you would usually choose to eat on a regular basis, meaning you are used to eating them… which brings us back to the ‘no new things’ we discussed in point 1.
If you’re feeling unsure, it’s a good idea to get some personalized advice whilst there is still plenty of time available before your big race for testing different foods, drinks and portions.
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