In my last post, I discussed my race week routine with regards to tapering and bringing down the volume of training I'm doing. Since then, I've had a few requests about what my diet and nutrition plan looks like during the week before a race. My typical eating habits will not change much during the beginning of the week. Although, there are a few things I try stick to when I start the week and especially later in the week:
- Avoid introduction of new foods - I try stick to foods by body regularly receives, no need for some random onset GI issues
- Stay away from the heat - spicy foods, well .... you know. I just stay away.
- Avoid/Limit Fiber intake - I stick to white carbs (whole wheat are much higher in fiber) during this week.
- Limit caffeine - I stick to a single cup in the morning. Just enough to perk me up.
- Limit Alcohol - the hardest, but necessary. One drink the Friday before.
Where I start to see substantive changes is the three-days prior to the race when I start carb-loading. This is where, unlike Trevor, I load up on my bread.
What is carb-loading? Carb-loading attempts to maximize the storage of glycogen in the muscles and liver. The idea being you top up the glycogen stores to be used on race day, helping avoid bonking and potentially limiting the amount of on course nutrition needed to maintain energy levels. I've been told that typically you've got about 2 hours of glycogen stores, carb-loading can bring that up too 3 hours. Not insignificant.
I personally follow a three-day carb-loading routine where I seek to consume somewhere in between 560 - 810 grams of carbs per day (7-10 grams/kg). Yup that is a lot of food ..... and it sure isn't easy to do. I try to best break it out over 6-8 meals/snacks during the day although as we all can attest, this isn't the easiest thing at all times. But my schedule looks something like this (I've simplified for the sake of the post, but you get the general gist):
- Breakfast - 100 grams carbs, 15-25 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Snack 1 - 40-75 grams carbs, 15 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Lunch - 200 grams carbs, 15-25 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Snack 2 - 40-75 grams carbs, 15 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Dinner - 200 grams carbs, 15-25 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Snack 3 - 40-75 grams carbs, 15 grams protein, 5 grams fat
- Snack 4 - (optional 40-75 depending on snack volume and general feeling)
Total Carbs - 660-800 grams; Protein - 105 - 175 grams; Fat - 35 grams
As you can see, that equals a lot of food in a single day. Now, it is easy to eat a ton of carbs of unhealthy foods, but when you're trying to eat healthy it can be a bit of challenge; and, at times, quite bland.
Here is a list of foods that help me reach these targets:
- Bread & Bagels (white only) - Rod I am forever grateful for the delicious bread you provide (pictured above)!
- Rice (white)
- Potatoes (regular and sweet potatoe)
- Pastas (white)
- Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Fish (leaner the better)
- Energy bars - Elevate me and Cliff
- Yogurt (Greek during day, regular at night)
- Vegetables (although not much in terms of carbs, I can't ignore the micronutrient benefits)
Finally, race day morning looks a little different than a typical morning as well. Assuming a 6:20 am race start, my race morning looks like this:
- 4:00 am - Wake up
- 4:05 am - Breakfast - Bagel (white), Peanut Butter and Jam (no butter) + water (with NUUN Tablet)
- 5:30 am - Energy Bar (Cliff, Elevate Me), sips of water
- 5:45 - 6:00 - Warm-up
- 6:30 - Game time
So there it is, a high-level overview of my nutrition strategy prior to an event. I find that this works well for me. While it may not work for everyone, it may provide a good jumping off point.
If you're creating your own plan, I would definitely recommend consultation with a Registered Nutritionist (I'm not one, but I consult one quite regularly).
Happy Training or Good Luck, if you're racing this week!