Nutrition for the big race doesn’t start the night before. Just like training takes months, nutrition training should start well in advance to make sure that you are ready for the BIG day. Remember, that everything you do in the days before the race, on race day, and during the race itself, should have been tested-out in training. Here are a few easy to follow guidelines to ensure that you are ready once to gun goes off.
♦ Weeks leading up to the race
Ensure that you are eating a variety of foods from all food groups, including vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. Another important aspect is ensuring that you are hydrated as dehydration can lead to a decrease in performance. The goal for meals would be to include at least three of the four food groups and for snacks to include at least two of the four food groups. For hydration, aim for light yellow colored urine (not apple juice yellow) by drinking fluids throughout the day.
♦ Race day
The goal for your pre-race meal is high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat and low fibre…and don’t forget fluids!
– Timing and meal size:
o 3-4 hours for large meal to digest
o 2-3 hours for smaller meal (or larger snack)
o 1-2 hours for snack
– Early morning workouts are the perfect time to practice your timing and meal choices. Remember that on race day, you will likely be more nervous and need to either adjust your timing (eat earlier) or meal size (eat less)
♦ During the race
The goal during the race is fluid intake and for longer events, electrolyte and carbohydrate intake as well. This is important to enhance physical and mental performance, prevent injury, delay fatigue and spare protein. Remember to start ingesting carbohydrates from the start of the race. Slowly work on building your intake in training, and try different combinations of solids and fluids and different brands to see what works for you. What you eat/drink should help you stay mentally and physically ready to compete, it should not give you stomach problems.
♦ Post race
Recovery, recovery, recovery! Although the race is (finally) over, nutrition is still important! Follow the 4R’s to recovery to help with soreness and fatigue in the days to follow: Rest with sleep, Rehydrate with fluids, Replenish with carbohydrates, Repair/Rebuild with protein.
– Have a snack before you head home from the race by taking advantage of all the great food that is offered once you cross the finish line!
– Include carbohydrates and protein…remember carbohydrates to refuel your muscles (bagels, fruit, chocolate milk, Popsicle, etc) and protein to repair/rebuild muscle
– Have a meal once you get home to continue the recovery process
Have more questions on how to get race ready, fueling during your race and/or on enhancing your recovery? Contact Janelle at the Pan-Am Clinic (204-927-2660) to book your nutrition appointment and take the next step in optimizing your performance.