By: Nely Ward
It is once again time for The Louisiana Marathon, which is the biggest event that we at FRESHJUNKIE Racing produce. We have lots of followers who will be participating in this event over a wide range of distances including a Kids 1 Mile, 5k, Quarter Marathon, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon. For this month’s nutrition section, we have decided that it is best to send out tips on how to plan your race week nutrition. If you are not racing next week, no worries! Save this article, I promise it will come in hand the next time you are headed into a race week.
A nutrition plan will not only complement your taper week, but will help you to show up to the start line ready to run your best race. With all of the conflicting advice out there: carb loading, carb starve, reducing calories, etc. it can be very confusing to know what the best nutrition plan is for you, and taper week is not the week to be confused.
You have been working hard for weeks to get your body into racing shape and now this week is the time to rejuvenate your muscles and your body as we head into race day. Think of this week as the time to nurture your body with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and nutrients that all promote muscle growth and repair.
The week before the race:
During taper week leading up to your race, your body will be able to recover more than it has during your heavy training blocks, which will help your muscle enzymes to restock glycogen and store carbohydrates to help energy levels on race day. This week 60-70% of your diet should be coming from healthy carbs to make sure that your glycogen levels are fully restored. Base your diet this week on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and avoid fast food, processed food, refined sugars and excess oils. Drink plenty of water this week. All the water you drink between now and race day will benefit your hydration levels. Cut out any leafy greens and hard vegetables 2-3 days before the race, so avoid any stomach distress on the race course. Avoid trying new foods on race week, this is not the time to get fancy with your meals!
24 hours ahead:
Eat normal balanced meals like you would normally do on any training day. Eat something small every 2-3 hours. This is the day to cut out red meat, dairy products, and fats. Make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Throw an electrolyte fluids drink in the mix the day leading up to race. Try to have an early dinner the night before a race. Plan this meal ahead of time. You want to eat a high carb, low fat meal to ensure your body has enough time for digestion. A great example of a dinner would be baked potato, rice, chicken breast, etc. Normal and simple foods that are easy to digest. Stick to the meals that you have been eating leading into your big training runs. Cannot emphasize enough- nothing new!
You should be up and moving 2-3 hours before race start, and drink 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fluid to ensure that you are hydrated. The biggest rule to follow on race morning is, don’t try anything new. Eat a breakfast that you have eaten several times in the past before a long run. You do not want to upset your stomach on race morning by having to make an emergency restroom break during the race, if it can be avoided by eating familiar foods. If you are a normal coffee or tea drinker before long runs, do this on race day. Both can help clear out your bowels before you start, and that too can help settle your race day nerves.
30 minutes before:
It is time to kick off the race, consume 15 grams of carbs- this can be sports drink, banana, chews, gels, etc. just make sure that it is something that you have used in training before.
During the Race:
Race like you have trained. Use the nutrition that you are familiar with and hydrate along the course.
Following these nutrition tips up to race day, will help set you up for a successful race experience. Good luck and have fun!