SAY NO TO THE TROTS!
The Perfect Race-Day Fuel Strategy
It’s no secret that fuelling can make or break a race. But it’s not just what you eat during a run that matters. Forty-one per cent of runners have had stomach problems ruin a long run or race, according to a recent poll of Runner’s World Twitter followers. But, experts say, most issues are preventable – if you follow these guidelines.
THE DAY BEFORE Do carb- load throughout the day.
Eat a higher-thannormal proportion of bread, pasta, rice, or other carbs (and less protein, fat, and vegetables) at every meal – not just dinner. “You might not be as hungry as usual during the taper,” says 11-time marathoner and dietician Kelly Hogan, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Eating smaller meals every couple of hours can help you get enough carbs without stuffing yourself.” In his book Meb forMortals(R316, exclusivebooks.co.za), Meb Keflezighi said he keeps two or three sandwiches on his bedside table to eat throughout the night.
Do add salt.
You’re going to sweat a lot during your run. When it’s warm and you’re out for more than an hour, you’ll lose a lot of sodium. To boost levels beforehand, sprinkle salt on pre-race meals, says Hogan, and opt for salty snacks and side dishes such as pickles or sauerkraut.
Don’t forget to drink.
It’s essential to start your run properly hydrated. “If you’re already running on empty, you can’t make that up during the race,” says personal trainer and dietician Kelli Shallal. Divide your body weight by 30 and drink at least that many litres per day in the week leading up to your race. Set timers during the day to stay on track.
Don’t order a beer ( sorry!).
Yes, alcohol is a carb. “But it doesn’t work the same way food carbs do to fuel the glycogen stores for long-lasting energy,” says Shallal. Even one drink can tax the GI system and disrupt REM sleep (the most restorative type of sleep), she adds. “Your body may still feel the effects the next morning, even if your brain doesn’t.”
Don’t eat anything greasy or creamy.
Fatty foods can upset your stomach, keep you awake at night, and cause GI problems on race morning, says personal trainer and dietician Melissa Majumdar. “Make a reservation where you know you can get a safe, standard meal,” she says. “By now you should know what works best the night before a long run, and you want to replicate that as closely as possible.”