THE ULTIMATE PRE-RACE FORMULA
It’s a week out from race day and you are feeling fitter, stronger, faster and 100% ready to compete! Race week is about focusing your attention on what lies ahead and trusting that your hard work and dedication will pay off. 5 super tips to get you primed and ready to go for race day!
Reducing your training volume during race week helps to minimise the physical stresses associated with training. This gives your body the perfect opportunity to repair and recover prior to competition. Studies have shown that tapering helps to reduce fatigue and increase the levels of circulating haemoglobin and red blood cells- vital for transporting oxygen to your hardworking muscles. Tapering also increases the concentration of growth and repair hormones while reducing cortisol, a hormone involved in inflammation. Try to minimise all other types of stress this week and take some time out to align and focus your mind.
Prime your body with optimal fuel. Just like a racing car, your body requires the best quality fuel for maximum efficiency and performance. Quality fuel for your body comes in the form of a natural wholefoods based diet. Continue to include a portion of low GI carbs and clean, lean protein at each meal. This will help to supersaturate your glycogen levels and max your fuel stores for race day. Hydrate effectively each day by drinking plenty of water and fluids.
By this stage you are in tune with your fluid requirements and have ideally, practiced your hydration and refuelling strategies during longer training sessions. You are aware of the foods and fluids that work well with your body and have weeded out those that don’t. Race day is not the time to try the latest gel or wiz-bang sports drink if you have never had it before. Practice with what you know and go, go go!
In the 12 hours prior to your race, focus on light, easily digested meals. This means avoiding heavy foods that are high in fat, spices or too much fibre such as beans. Give yourself ample time to digest and avoid overeating before bed and your event. These factors can slow down and impair digestion, disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling pretty uncomfortable while you race. The last thing that you need during race is a heavy meal sloshing about in your belly.
My Top night before meals and snacks are:
Cinnamon roasted Sweet potato with quality protein such as fish or smashed organic eggs.
Salmon Burgers with sweet potato
Zucchini Fritters with roasted pumpkin chunks or smashed green peas
Apple + Cinnamon Cookie
Aim for high carb and moderate protein meals for a pre race breakfast and consume at least 2 hours before your event. Liquid breakfasts, like smoothies, juices or protein shakes are a particularly good option for individuals with sensitive digestive systems, an early race start or those who get really nervous (which can lead to diarrhoea!)
Don’t forget your fluids! Aim to have ~500ml of water in the 2 hour lead up to your race, topping this up with smaller sips as the start time approaches.
5. READY SET GO !
Start hydrating and refuelling early in to your race i.e. within the first 20 minutes. Bear in mind factors, such as the weather and temperature and adjust your race strategy as needed. If the weather is hot and humid, your sweat losses and hydration needs will be higher, and vice versa for cold and rainy conditions.
Be weary not to go too overboard with hydrating, balance and common sense are imperative. Chugging down a full glass at every drink station is probably unnecessary for most. Listen to your body and aim for small but frequent intake of fluid e.g. 100-200ml every 15minutes.
Top up your blood sugar levels to help spare your glycogen stores by tucking into some high GI carbs at regular intervals. Aim for 30-60g per hour of racing, which equates to a handful of raisins, a date, 1-2 tsp honey (or a honey shot*) or 100ml sports drink every 15minutes.
Get energised, nervous and excited! You have worked hard to get to this point and now it’s time to hit the starting line.
Next week we will wrap up our sports nutrition series with a final post on optimising your recovery. Good luck!
Team Healthy Chef :) x