As Race day approaches and after weeks of training it’s time to consolidate everything you’ve practised ready for racing.
Kalila’s Kathy is race ready for Boston 2018 and the Kalila team are all here cheering her on. She’s put in the miles in training and has fuelled her body to reach peak fitness. Now it’s about race day routine, conserving energy and a few short hours to the finish line.
In our last two articles we talked about carbs and proteins, and here are a few more top tips.
Hopefully, you’ve been testing out some of our suggestions and have found a food routine that works for you. The most important thing now is DON’T CHANGE! Now is not the time to try new things. Build-up to race day is all about routine and here’s a quick check list to go through:
- What time does the race start?
- What time do I need to get up?
- What time shall I eat dinner the night before? (Aim to eat before 7pm to allow your body time to digest so that you can get a good night sleep.
- What time shall I eat breakfast (usually at least 2hrs before the race starts).
- What do I eat? Stick to tried and tested foods that you have been consuming throughout training and that your body is used to. Aim for easily digestible foods and slow-release wholegrain carbs for sustained energy such as wholegrain pasta, sweet potatoes or rice-based meals for dinner, porridge oats, buckwheat pancakes, bananas, cocoa and avocado smoothies for breakfast. The important thing is to choose from your personal repertoire of foods that work for you.
- Plan your bathroom routine; this often coincides with your timings for eating. You don’t want surprises on race day!
- Plan your fluid intake (based on your observations from training) and aim to drink little and often.
Remember to listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, take a drink!
If in training you have found your energy levels drop mid race then ask friends and family to spread themselves out around the course with some mini snacks and aim for foods you regularly eat. Bananas, dates, dried apricots, nuts and seeds are all good sources of energy.
You’ve crossed the line and got your medal. Congratulations!
Now it’s time to take your achy bones home and nurture your body with good food and sleep. Most of our body’s natural repair mechanisms occur at night in what is often described as our “rest and digest” stage. This is when our immune system can take over from all the other activities and repair muscle damage and any other insults which can take place during endurance events. Nutrient-dense foods are one of the key ingredients for our immune system to function efficiently so in the days following race day it’s important to focus on eating a broad variety of foods to supply a wide range of nutrients.
Here are a few food groups to aim for:
- Good quality protein to rebuild and repair- Protein is the building block for our bodies and necessary for all repair. Good sources include quality meat, fish, eggs, Greek yoghurt, and plant foods such as quinoa, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
- Colourful fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants – When we exercise we put our body under a great deal of “oxidative stress”. The influx of oxygen we inhale can actually damage cells and anti-oxidant foods counter this and help protect. A general rule of thumb is the deeper the colour the more anti-oxidant rich a food is. Good sources include berries (raspberries, blueberries, goji berries, cranberries, blackberries), red peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, radishes, artichoke, kidney beans, dark chocolate.
- Clean Greens for detoxification – Our bodies are continually getting rid of waste and supporting detoxification is important in endurance sports. You will have used a lot of the hormones adrenalin and cortisol throughout the race and now your body needs to return to normal levels and clear out the excess. Green vegetables and sulphur-rich foods help do this. Good sources include kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, onions, mushrooms.
And don’t forget to sleep! Rest is the best thing to aid recovery after a big race so kick back and enjoy a few good nights sleep.
- Burke, LM., et al., 2004. Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):15-30.
- Williamson, E., 2016. Nutritional implications for ultra-endurance walking and running events. Extreme Physiology & Medicine, [online] 5(1), p.13.