With my 10K just under two weeks away, it’s time to talk food fuel. As important as good gear, complimentary weight training and listening to your body are for successful racing, the one thing that makes it or breaks it for me is proper nutrition. (My professional background probably leaves me a little bit biased).
Most runners are familiar with the concept of carb-loading before a race, but the practice is often misunderstood and probably not necessary for the more casual runner*. I’ll put it simply: Eating a massive plate of spaghetti the night before a race is not carb-loading. In fact, with many casual runners on training regimens to lose weight, carb-loading can be a good way to derail weight-loss progress.
The best bet when prepping for race day is to really buckle down about 2 weeks out with the right combination of quality carbs, proteins and fats, leaving your metabolism running at its most efficient rate. Here’s how the two weeks before a race break down:
2 weeks to go: Diet should consist of about 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats. Check out tomorrow’s post for best bets in each category
1 week to go: Adjust the above ratios so you’re eating about 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fats
3 days to go: Adjust again – this time you’ll want 65% carbs, 20% protein and 15% fats
Day of the race: Eat your last meal about 2 hours before the race. Go for high quality carbs like oatmeal or brown rice and I usually add in a banana for some extra potassium.
Water: Most of the readily available nutrition advice for runners advises hydrating well before a race (which you certainly should), but a practice that’s really helped me over the past few years is something I call “water-loading”. If you’ve ever tried to down the mythically necessary eight 8 oz glasses a day, you know that suddenly imbibing more water than you’re used to equals many trips to the bathroom. Because a hard run means sweat and electrolyte loss it is a good idea to drink more water beforehand, but I find it helps to start downing extra water a few weeks in a day. Start downing 2 liters of water a day 2 weeks out from the race. You’ll be better hydrated and more comfortable running on the actual race day.
After the race: Don’t forget to keep your nutrition in check after the race! Your body will need to replenish fluids and electrolytes so fruit, veggies and water are your best bet. After about an hour (and a shower)enjoy a healthy burrito and a margarita. Yep. That margarita’s in my official training regimen!
*There is likely a benefit to carb-loading for distances of 1/2 marathon and longer.