Your Pre-Race Nutrition Plan
So, you’ve prepped, you’ve trained and you’re ready to go for the big race! Now, only one question remains: to carb load or not to carb load? Unfortunately, although it may sound appealing to eat an extra large plate of pasta or a pizza, it is not going to make you run any faster or any further. However, proper nutrition and hydration will have a big impact on your run, and your pre-race meals are a chance to top-up your tank. The goal of pre-race nutrition is to top up your glycogen stores and ensure that your body is properly hydrated for the big race.
The night before, a well balanced dinner with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats and lots of veggies will provide you with a balanced pre-race meal to have you crushing your goals the next morning. It is more important to have a balanced meal of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, than focusing solely on your carbohydrate intake alone. Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains like rice or quinoa, or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes or squash are better options than refined pastas, flours and breads. Something as simple as a pesto baked chicken breast, with a baked sweet potato and some steamed broccoli, or a grilled salmon fillet with rice and green salad, or a buckwheat and vegetable pasta with tomato sauce will all do the trick. Ensure that you are hydrating with lots of water the night before (sorry, no wine with dinner), and getting to bed early are really important factors to ensuring you are race ready. On average, you need about 1 litre of water for every 75 pounds of body weight – so drink up. Limit juices, caffeines and alcohol, and focus on pure water to keep the body well hydrated and the joint lubricated.
In the morning, depending on the time of your race, you’ll want to eat something at least 2 to 3 hours before your race.The pre-event meal serves two purposes: it prevents you from feeling hungry and provides adequate glucose to your muscles, blood, and liver. It’s important to opt for something your body is familiar with and something that is easy to digest. Since protein and fat take longer to digest then carbohydrates, loading them close to a workout can cause stomach issues. The last thing you want is cramping and indigestion while you are out on the course! A tasty oatmeal with banana and cinnamon, a mixed berry smoothie with hemp hearts and chia seeds, or some whole grain toast with almond butter and honey will do the trick. Ensure that you are drinking some water in the morning, a glass when you wake up, and topping it up with small sips as you get race ready to keep yourself hydrated.
Finally, 20 to 30 minutes prior to your run, you’ll want to top up you gas tank with about 25 to 30 grams of functional sugars (carbohydrates). This provides you with your last shot of fuel before you hit the pavement, and the appropriate sources can help you get in the game mentally. This can come in the form of an small piece of fruit, dried fruit, an energy gel or an energy drink (this is my go-to), along with some water. If you tend to fell queasy on race morning, stick to liquids; smoothies, juices, sports drinks and gels will be easier to digest but still provide you with the right nutrition.
Remember, eat well, run fast and race hard – good luck!