So, you have a tough race coming up. How should you fuel yourself?
7 days prior to your event, I would seriously consider loading up on 140ml concentrated beetroot juice daily. Its been shown to improve endurance by increasing nitrites in the blood, which reduces oxygen uptake from the blood. It really works!
3-5 days pre-race
Slowly increase your carb intake, aiming for 5-7kg per kilogram of bodyweight each day. Go for little and often rather than bulky meals.
Get lots of sleep & rest and stay well hydrated this week.
24 hours Pre-race
Increase carb intake further, to 8-10g per Kg bodyweight, also include plenty of lean protein into your diet.
The day & night before
I have a large lunch, which is pretty well carb-loaded, but again with a good balance of protein. Then in the evening have a lighter meal of similar proportions but smaller (not too late, to avoid the risk of bloating & a bad nights sleep).
2-3 hours before the race have a well-practised breakfast to include slow-release foods such as porridge/banana/bagel/wholemeal toast & peanut butter. Approx 80% of your calories should come from carbs.
Drink plenty of water – 500ml of water with electrolytes.
1 hour before
Have an energy bar to top up your energy stores if it feels comfortable. But don’t force it down. Cliff or Powerbars are made to be eaten prior to exercise. I rarely bother to be honest, but its all personal taste.
0-45 mins before
If you’re about to take a gel, have one with caffeine in it. If you haven’t practiced this, don’t bother. I usually start taking gels 45mins-1hour into the race.
During the race
If its an event over 60 minutes, break it down into 45 minute blocks during which you aim to consume 30-60g carbohydrates. Take whatever it is you have been using in training – a race is NOT the time to start trying new products or foods.
AFTER THE RACE
Within 30 minutes of completion, consume a meal or shake that is 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, keep drinking but avoid the alcohol (it’ll make you more dehydrated than you already are and you’ll feel terrible).
For the next 48 hours continue to eat approximately the same proportions of carb/protein and hydrate well.