Race week is here and I am sure nerves are high and a little fear factor is setting in for the big day. There is plenty that can still be done this week to ensure you have the best possible day out. In this latest blog I write on how to focus on the week leading up to the main event. I have also recorded it as a podcast with David Katz and you are welcome to take a listen below:
Lay off the Alcohol in Race Week
Race week is a very crucial week and its not the time to let yourself go. This week can make your race if you adhere to some fundamental principles.
The first thing I can honestly say is keep it clean, do not eat anything that could impact your digestive system negatively. Make sure you hydrate properly. The recommendation is 30-40ml of fluid per kg of body weight and that is not by any means alcohol. I’m talking water or a hypotonic drink for hydration (such as 32Gi Hydrate click here for more on hypotonic explanation) , do not consume anything that would dehydrate you. If you do drink alcohol, keep it out of race week. It will impact you on race day, there’s absolutely no doubt. Save it for after the race.
Avoid very heavy meals that you might not be used to, because some of these meals will impact your digestive system negatively. I’ve often seen people get stomach bugs close to an event due to eating out or foods they are not specifically used to. Many athletes travel down to a foreign city to race and in this case you should plan ahead and not rely solely on eating out.
Take as much of the foods with you during those last few days and that week. Make sure that those are the foods are foods that you would normally eat and stick to them. If you could not find a hotel or accommodation where you have got the ability to self-cater it makes it a lot easier to take with your own food and not be stuck without decent options. If you are in a hotel and they’re not cooking foods to your liking, ask for foods that do agree with you or take a page out of my book where I go into the kitchen and do it myself. They won’t have a problem with that, but try and plan and try to keep it clean.
48-72 hours before your Race (Nutrition is Crucial)
The 48-72 hours before an event are very crucial hours. Those hours can make or break your race. If you eat or drink something that doesn’t sit well with the body causing digestive issues, illness or dehydration it can lead to a really bad day out. For example if you are lactose intolerant do not compromise and consume any dairy steer clear of it. In many athletes red meat sits heavily in the stomach, so avoid heavy proteins and rather eat clean, lean proteins or plant based proteins. Finally do not try any new foods before the event stick to what you know and what agrees with you.
Make sure that you are hydrating constantly especially those 72 to 48 hours beforehand. I am re-emphasizing that you need to cut out any alcohol. Do not overdo it with stimulants especially caffeinated drinks such as coffee as they do have a diuretic effect and can also lead to sleep disturbance. You need to get a few good night’s sleep before the race, so you don’t want to impact your sleep by taking any stimulants which would impact it at night.
Some athletes deplete carbohydrate stores closer to a race and then slowly build up that carbohydrate intake to maximize their stores. Don’t try this if you’ve never tried it before. There is no reason to overeat carbohydrates in those hours before an event because your glycogen stores will be topped up with reduced volume in training and it’s not going to make a major difference on race day. There is no need to overdo it because that will just lead to weight gain and discomfort.
The Night before Race Day
The night before race day is where a lot of athletes get confused. I do not advocate eating a large meal the night before a race. I suggest that your lunch time meal can be ga slightly higher carbohydrate meal and then keep the dinner small.
I’m not saying go and eat three or four bowls of pasta, definitely not, keep it clean and keep it simple and small. It doesn’t need to be an excessive meal by any means, but you can have a slightly higher carbohydrate portion at that lunch time meal.
At dinner time eat another meal, it can be smaller, but it can also consist of a nice carbohydrate and protein portion. Keep it simple, so things like scrambled eggs on toast, a vegetable omelette with quinoa or a chicken or fish dinner with a small salad is perfect. Whether it’s tofu, whether it’s chicken or fish, all of those are very light and easy on the digestive system. Remember stick with what you are used to do not try new foods before race day.
The reason you want to keep the night time meal smaller is that you need a good night’s sleep before the event. That is by far the most important area of focus. You need to be comfortable to get a good nights sleep and if you overeat you will be left tossing and turning with a very heavy and uncomfortable stomach as well as an elevated metabolic rate making it difficult to fall asleep.
Some advice for the 24-48 hours before an event is to avoid anything that’s high in fiber. Fiber can cause a little bit of discomfort and many athletes are intolerant to high amounts especially when pre-race nerves are setting in and the last thing you need is an irritable bowel. Try and avoid high fiber foods, rather go for something that’s a little bit lower in fiber and easily absorbed and digested foods.
Make sure that you don’t drink fluid excessively the night before the race, rather drink frequently through the day. The last thing you want to be doing is running up and down to the toilet when you should actually be sleeping. You’re not going to get a lot of sleep that night, so try and maximise it as much as possible because it will benefit you on race day.
Next up is Race Day nutrition 😉
Stay Tuned for the next Blog as its an important one
all the best
Mark Wolff is an endurance, sports nutrition and physiology expert with over 20 years experience. An endurance multisport athlete with a triathlon, mountain biking and weight lifting background, he works extensively with professional and amateur athletes in a variety of sports disciplines as well as those just wanting to change their lifestyles. He firmly believes that a person can only reach their full potential when their health and nutrition is down packed. Mark’s focus on nutrition and physiology is not just on training and racing, but he places major emphasis on recovery, immune system health, emotional stability, stress management and performance. Mark is co-founder of 32Gi, a sports nutrition company, focused mainly on health and endurance nutrition. He is a certified sports nutrition expert as well as a marathon, track, triathlon and cycling coach. He spends most of his time guiding athletes with a very holistic approach to blending training and nutrition for performance and health