Monday, June 20, 2011

FUEL Strategies for Race Week

During the summer many endurance athletes or reaping the benefits of hard training over the winter and start competing in events. Race week can be an emotionally daunting week. Mileage decrease, free time increase and so do the nerves and excitement. You will play out every possible scenario in your head from winning the crown to facing your worst fear of a DNF (did not finish). But to avoid the later there are a few important things to remember during the week leading up to your big event.

There is a saying about the days before a big race or event. “There is nothing you can do in the week before a race to help yourself. You can only do things to hurt yourself.”
There is some truth to this and it should be used as a warning. Obvious things to avoid the week before a race are running one last long run; not going easy on easy runs; and being over worked and under rested will hurt performance on race day.
Often forgotten, race week FUEL strategies are just as important. Dehydration, over hydration, undernourished, over nourished, or a bought with food intolerance or poisoning will hinder performance.
Race week is not a time to make majors changes to your diet. Stick with familiar foods.  Be aware that as you taper (decrease) your miles taper your calorie intake to avoid weight gain.

Avoid carbohydrate or calorie loading for an entire week. Non-elite runners can gain up to 5lbs+ during race week due to counterproductive, over eating practices.  You may be nervous about not having enough energy or rationalize with yourself that you will “run it off Saturday” but you will have enough and you will not run it all off.

If you have been eating a proper diet or follow a Runner’s FUEL meal plan in you are well prepared. You can NOT undo weeks of poor dietary habits in 24 or 48 hours.

Twenty four (24) - forty eight (48) hours before and event start to increase your daily carbohydrate consumption by 200-300 calories.  This is NOT a buffet. This is NOT at one meal (read and repeat out loud). Add one extra carbohydrate rich foods to each meal through out the day.  

Focus on fruits such as; bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melon.  Add vegetables such as; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams.  Include lean protein and heart healthy fat to stabilize blood sugar.  Reduce dietary fiber to allow for calmer digestion of foods.

The morning of the event, wake up early enough to have a decent breakfast 1-2 hours before the events starts. Give the stomach time to digest and have time to answer Mother Nature’s call before the race starts.

Be sure to satisfy hunger.   The longer breakfast is delayed the greater the risk of starting under fueled.  Restock carbohydrates stores that deplete naturally by the overnight fast Include a heart healthy fat to help stabilize blood sugar and increases satiety.  Hydrate but do not over hydrate. Prevent the onset of dehydration during exercise by being well hydrated before. Consuming to much fluid will flush out precious electrolytes and increase potty stops! At least, 16-24 oz (2) hours prior to start.

Examples of Pre Race FUEL Choices
Oatmeal with 2 eggs
Smoothie with protein powder
Bagel with peanut butter
Lara Bar

FUEL TIP: If you already have a routine stick with it…

RUN Healthy and Good LUCK!

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