Pre-Race Fuelling Protocol
On the previous post I’ve discussed how to get prepared for an endurance competition, and if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you to do so.
The true is, the pre-race nutrition doesn’t start a week before your run, like the trainings it should start months in advance.
1- You probably already heard from someone : “Don't eat anything new on the race day”. The race day nutrition needs to be practiced before. Use long runs in training to practice fuelling with fruits, gels, bars, chews or whatever you are planning to eat on the day. That is the best way of figuring out the amount and timing that works for you.
2- Focus on sleep. The two nights before the race are when quality sleep matters the most.
3- You don't need to go crazy on carbs! Yes, you want to eat more carbs but it doesn’t mean you should use the race as an excuse to eat everything. Otherwise, you will feel tired, bloated or weighed down.
Three to two days before the race start increasing in 20-25% de amount of carbohydrates you eat. Add a good source of carbs at every meal using food that you normally eat.
4- If you had a good nutrition prior the race and a well balanced pre-race meal, you have plenty of energy on the tank for around 1h30 hour of exercising without the need of extra fueling. Just make sure to stay well hydrated.
For long distance runners I would recommend to save the gels to start using at the 15-17k mark, but always listening to your body, don’t wait until you completely run out of fuel to start replenishing it.
Aim for something around 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. If you choose to use energy gels opt for the maltodextrin based ones – which is absorbed quicker than glucose.
*Don’t overdue it: Drinking or eating too much during the race can cause gastrointestinal distress.
5- The night before you want to fuel your body with slow releasing (low GI) carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa or wholemeal pasta followed by a small portion of protein. Avoid high fibre/ gas forming foods that may cause discomfort and affect your sleep.
5- On the race day plan your breakfast for at least 90 minutes before the race. Allow time for your body to absorve and digest the nutrients.
A bowl of oats with banana or a toast with a dash of honey are great choices. Add a small portion of fat like peanut butter to help to slow down the release of the carbs and give you a slow sustained release of energy. If you are having protein, have it early in small portions. Worry about protein consumption on the post race.
*If you like drinking coffee, having it with the breakfast would be the best time. That way you make sure you have enough time to use the toilet as it naturally speeds up bowel movements.
6- Around 30 minutes before the race have a snack. Such as a banana (magnesium and potassium) with a dash of honey (quick energy release for the first kilometres) or a Energy Gel.
7- Have a good distribution of fluids before, during and post race. While on the race, don’t skip a race station. And, if you normally sweat a lot you should consider running with hydration backpack. For better understanding on hydration, here.
My Personal Pre-Race Fuelling Protocol;
The day before the race I normally have three normal-sized meals and two snacks. My dinner is not later than 6pm to allow enough time for digestion before going to bed.
-The morning on the day before like most of my days I eat scrambled eggs with homemade toast or a bowl of porridge with almond milk and fruits. Plus a side of steamed leafy greens or a green juice to top up my nitrates levels and vitamin C boost.
I try to limit my caffeine intake to one, maximum two coffees on the day and not drink it later than mid day.
-For snacks I aim to keep it simple; I have fruits with a portion of nuts; brown rice cakes with avocado or nut butter or a Berry and Beet smoothie.
Berry Smoothie Recipe
1/2 cup berries;
1/2 small beetroot cooked;
1 cup spinach;
1 cup almond milk;
1 scoop protein or collagen;
Optional add in: maca powder, bee pollen, cacao, seeds.
-For lunch I fuel half of my plate with low GI carbohydrates, 1/4 plate of protein and 1/4 plate of green vegetables or/and salad.
-To guarantee a good fluid intake a take my water bottle with me everywhere; drink one or two glasses of coconut water and sip on tea, which will help to maintain a strong immune system plus load up my antioxidant levels.
-My pre-race dinner is normally roasted sweet potato or rice with a small salmon fillet and avocado salsa or gluten free pasta with greens and tofu.
-On the day before I allow time to have my breakfast at home before leaving to the race, which normally is an Overnight Porridge so I don’t need to worry about preparing anything.
Ingredients: Gluten Free Oats, Banana, Almond milk, Chia seeds, Almond Butter and a dash of honey.
-Again, on my way to the race I drink plenty of water to ensure I’m well hydrated. And 30 minutes prior the race I have a banana or some rice cakes with honey and nut butter for snack.
I will only eat something during the race if I’m running more than 21km. (My metabolism uses fat more efficiently than carbs as prime source of energy. Also, due to my GI issues I find that works really well for me to fat adapt my body. Which means improve my body’s efficiency to break down fats for energy during exercise. This allows carbohydrate that is stored in muscles to be spared, which reduces the need for carbohydrate replacement during exercise. As much it seems interesting, it is something that you need to allow time and training to happen, that is a topic for a next post.)
When I’m competing at home I normally make my one energy gels but for the Ultra-Marathon due to the transport from Sydney to Melbourne and long duration of the competition I decided to opt for conventional gels. The brands that worked better for me were V Fuel Edurance Gel and SIS.
I hope I’ve covered all of your questions. Best of luck for everyone racing this Weekend; UTA- Ultra Trail Australia, Sydney Half-Marathon and Great Ocean Road Running Festival.
I keep you guys updated about my Ultra-Marathon adventure.
Importante note: This is a general information only and does not substitute a professional guidance. Each person need tailored recommendations for fuelling their activity.