By Jorie Janzen
A ton of work goes into getting yourself ready for race day. For months you’ve been preparing your body physically, mentally and nutritionally. So you don’t want to risk it all the night before your race and that means making the right food choices, which can either help or hinder your performance. Here’s how to guarantee you’re fuelling right and ready to rock your race day.
• Stick to your nutrition plan – tried and true! Carb load, eat adequate protein and limit the fat. Aim to have a larger breakfast, lunch and include balanced snacks along with a typical supper the day before the race.
•Here are some meal and snack ideas: For supper opt for pasta with tomato and meat sauce, salad, and milk or grilled chicken, baked potato topped with salsa, and vegetables. As a bedtime snack, choose a mix of carbohydrate and protein foods think, yogurt parfait, power muesli and high protein pancakes. For breakfast prepare overnight oats or a fruit smoothie the night before can save you time and energy.
• Keep food simple. Typically, food should be full of solid nutrition and taste enjoyable.
• Plan your recovery snack. Something as simple as chocolate milk with a piece of fruit will provide electrolytes, fluid, carbohydrate and quality protein to help begin the healing or post-event recovery process.
• Prepare clothing and food and fluids (for before, during and after the race) the night before so you are ready to go the morning of the event.
• Stay well hydrated by consuming adequate fluids. Your urine should be a pale yellow. The darker it is the more dehydrated you are. Include more than just water to boost both fluid and carbohydrate intake.
• Have a backup plan if you are too nervous to eat solid food. Liquid meal replacements such as smoothies or chocolate milk can help meet your energy and fluid needs.
• Make sure to rest. Tapering your training or not training at all the day before will help your muscles top up with fuel to maximize your performance.
• Think about performance and that it takes fuel to burn fuel. Quality and quantity of food and fluids matter before the race.
• Take time to meditate. Deep breathing exercises are great to focus and reset your racing mind and nervous gut which may save you precious energy.
• Think you can eat and drink whatever you want, skip meals and carbohydrates or eat spicy, fatty or highly caffeinated foods/beverages.
• Eat excessively large portions of anything.
• Excessive fibre content as it can leave you feeling bloated. Just before a race white rice/pasta etc. may be easier on your stomach.
• Eat or drink anything new.
• Miss out on hydrating with water, chocolate milk or other sport beverages.
• Pre-race party (aka, alcohol). While it is true that one can get loaded on beer, it is also true that you can’t carb load on it, so steer clear.
• Stay up late. Quantity AND quality of sleep are vital to obtain full recovery and keep your mindset in the right place.
• Over-exercise/train. You want to be fully recovered physically and mentally.
• Forget to plan and prepare food/fluids for before, during and after the race.
• Assume the venue will have what you need. Imagine you are feeling low in energy and there are no quick energy sources available! Plan and prepare in advance what you will eat and drink before, during and after the race. Don’t leave even the little things to chance.
Don’t forget to complete your sport nutrition plan at the finish line. Chocolate milk is not only convenient and tasty but is full of quality protein, quick carbohydrates, and is a fluid balanced with electrolytes for post race recovery.
Jorie Janzen is the founder and co-chiar for the Manitoba Sport Nutrition Network. She offers expert advice for the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba, Sport Manitoba, and an advising consultant with the Winnipeg Jets. She currently holds memberships with Dietitians of Canada (provincial sport nutrition representative), and the College of Dietitians of Manitoba.
Want more recovery advice? Find what you should be doing 36 hours post-race for a guaranteed speedy recovery.