Do you know the 3 areas you need to consider when planning your race day nutrition?
You need to plan what you are going to eat and drink before, during and after your event.
Many of the endurance athletes I talk to about nutrition only focus on one of these phases; what they are going to eat during their next event.
Some have a detailed nutrition plan and they know exactly what they are going to eat and drink hour by hour during their event. They are likely to finish the race reasonably well hydrated with some energy to spare.
Others I talk to, eat what their friends have told them to eat. Finally there are some who don’t even think about their nutrition until race day and then eat and drink whatever happens to be available on the route.
To make sure you are full of energy and hydrated, you need to plan what you are going to eat and drink during the race and practice it in advance. But, that’s only part of the picture. To maximize your chance of getting great results, you also need to plan what you are going to eat and drink both before and after your event.
Let’s look first at the aims of your nutrition before the event. The focus here is to ensure that you are well hydrated and that your energy stores are topped up with glycogen, in both your liver and muscles. You should plan what you are going to eat and drink , the week before your event, the night before, 2-4 hours before and then in the last hour before your race starts. At each of these stages you need to calculate how much carbohydrate you need to be eating and what you are going to eat to supply that. You also need to calculate how much you need to drink.
If you are staying away the night before your event then make sure you find out what’s available in the local area both for the evening meal and breakfast. These 2 meals are really important if you want to get to the start line fully fuelled. The foods you choose should be those that give a slow sustained release of carbohydrate. They should also be low in fat and fibre and stay away from anything spicy if you want to avoid GI issues on the day !
After your race, you need to make sure you focus on 3 main areas:
- Re-fuelling and replacing your glycogen stores with carbohydrate
- Repairing and rebuilding your muscles with protein
- Rehydrating with fluids
Again, you will need to calculate how much carbohydrate, protein and fluid you need post race and plan what you are going to eat to meet those requirements.
Providing your body with everything it needs nutritionally after an event will keep your body strong and healthy and ready for that next race.
If you want to build your knowledge and skills around what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it, my online course Race faster – How to fuel your next event has been designed to do exactly that.