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Race nutrition: Three days before Race Day

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Posted by Kate Percy of Go Faster Food under Nutrition on 1 April 2013 at 11:00 PM

Race nutrition doesn't start on the morning of the race, here are some top tips from Kate P of Go Faster Food on how to prepare for your endurance event three days ahead of race day!

You’ve trained hard for an event, now it’s time for the icing on the cake. Three to four days before the race is the critical time to fuel up so that your energy levels are at their absolute peak on race day. A few tweaks to your diet as you taper your training will ‘super-charge’ your muscles so you can have the race of your life! 

8 top Go Faster Tips to maximise your muscle glycogen stores for optimum energy 

1. Carbohydrates are the key energy provider for any type of endurance race. Carbs are converted into blood glucose and used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle. The bad news is that your body can only store enough carbohydrate for approximately 90 minutes hard exercise. To perform at your best you want to be standing on the start line with the maximum amount of glycogen in your body. Eat around 10%* more carbohydrates than you would normally eat over the three to four days leading up to the race, choosing nutrient-rich, low to medium GI carbohydrates, the less refined the better, to keep your blood sugar levels stable and sustain energy.

Oat pancakes with cranberry and maple syrup

2. Taper your Training by reducing the duration and intensity of your workouts in the week before the event and your body. This will automatically store the muscle glycogen which would normally be used to fuel your long training sessions and, in combination with an increase in your consumption of carbs, will help build stores to the maximum. The taper will undoubtedly make you feel frustrated, desperate to squeeze in that last workout. Try to resist temptation; the training’s done now and you need to rest your muscles, sleep well, eat well and take it easy. 

Vegetable selection3. Reduce Protein and fat; the aim is to increase carbohydrate intake, not your overall daily calorie intake. If you do this you will gain weight and feel uncomfortable. As you eat more carbs, reduce the amount of protein and fat you eat. Don’t cut them out entirely though. You’ll need around 15% lean protein, such as fish, chicken and eggs, and 15% fat, with a focus on heart-friendly unsaturated fats, such as oily fish, nuts, avocados. 

4. Watch the Calories! You don’t want to be standing on the start line feeling fat and nailed to the floor. Eating excess carbohydrates can make your stomach feel distended and uncomfortable, so choose your carbohydrates wisely. Some carbohydrate-rich foods, often the processed convenience foods such as crisps, donuts, buttery croissants, cheesy pizzas, or creamy pasta meals and curries, buttery baked potatoes, lattes and frapuccinos, are high in calories and unwanted fats. Choose lower fat carbohydrates such as oats, basmati rice, pasta with tomato-based sauces, noodle stir-fries, English muffins, wholemeal toast, plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Fresh pasta5. Stick to plain and familiar foods, whether this is your first event ever or you are a seasoned competitor, you will no doubt suffer from pre-race nerves! This, combined with your taper, can play games with your stomach. You might feel unnecessarily bloated or full of wind, you might feel constipated, or worse suffer from diarrhoea. To minimise these effects, avoid high fibre foods, such as lentils, pulses, bran and brown rice, and keep to familiar foods that you would normally eat in your training diet. 

6. Eat little and often. Your appetite may decrease with the taper and this can make eating your daily carbohydrate requirement difficult. Try to eat smaller meals and snack frequently.  For examples of carbohydrate-rich snacks, see FuelSmart for Race Day.

7. Keep hydrated and you’ll enjoy the race much better. During the three days before the event, keep a bottle of water with you and sip it frequently. Tea, coffee, squash, smoothies, juicy fruits and fruit juices, even soups will also boost your fluid intake. Some competitors find a glass of wine or a beer in the evening helps them relax. This is fine, but it is best to limit this to the one glass or to avoid the temptation completely. 

8. The night before the race, continue to follow steps 1 to 7, and, most importantly, don’t eat anything new.  Sticking to familiar foods will ensure your stomach at its happiest! Drink plenty of water during the day and eat some plain carbs with a little protein and fat for your evening meal, like spaghetti with a pesto or tomato sauce, rice or couscous with grilled chicken and vegetables, perhaps a light salad, followed by a comforting pudding like an apple crumble to promote a deep sleep. 

Athlete and cook, Kate Percy, brings sports nutrition to life with mouth-watering recipes for training and racing. Her new book, FuelSmart for Race Day, will steer you through the critical three days leading up to an endurance event with delicious recipes for optimum performance and advice on what, when and how much to eat for your best race ever.

Have the race of your life with Go Faster Food FuelSmart!

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