This guidance is for athletes participating in an endurance event such as a half- or full-distance IRONMAN, a marathon or ultra-running event, or cycling event lasting 5+ hours.
Start increasing the carb intake at the beginning of the week. Boosting carbohydrate intake to 3.5 to 4 grams of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight will further increase your glycogen stores.
2 to 3 Days Out: Cut Out Bulk
Limiting high-fiber foods such as bran cereals, whole grains, and large amounts of fibrous vegetables for the final few days prior to a race has multiple benefits. Research from the Australian Institute of Sport shows that eating a lower fiber diet can help lighten the weight of material in the intestines. This may help you avoid the need for an urgent midrace pit stop that would otherwise add time to your race.
A pre-race meal supplies extra carbs to top off glycogen stores, particularly in the liver, which will help steady blood sugar levels during the race. Aim for 0.5 to 1 gram for every pound of body weight (about 65 to 130 grams for a 130-pound athlete or 90 to 180 grams for a 180-pound athlete)—but only eat the higher range if you have four full hours to digest. Back off on fats and keep protein to about 15 grams or fewer—both nutrients take longer to digest.
If you’re used to getting most of your calories in one big meal, be prepared to make adjustments. You won’t be able to consume enough carbohydrates during dinner the night before a race. Plan on eating a bigger than normal breakfast and lunch, and fitting in snacks between meals.
RACE WEEK FOOD INTAKE
|Foods to Limit||Foods to Choose|
|Wheat, Rye||Gluten-free (rice, potato products)|
|Dairy||Lactose-free dairy okay|
|Apples, Cherries, Watermelon||Banana, Orange, Strawberry|
|Nectarines, Plums, White Peaches||Blueberry, Cantelope, Pineapple|
|Cashews, Pistachios||Almonds, peanuts|
|Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms||Bell peppers, Carrots, Celery, Spinach|
|Beans||Cheddar and Swiss Cheese okay|
|Honey, Dates, Sorbitol||Marmalade jam|
Why you should preload sodium:
Boosting your blood plasma volume before intense exercise is a proven way to enhance your performance, especially in hot conditions.
Having more blood makes it easier for your cardiovascular system to meet the competing demands of cooling you down and delivering oxygen to your muscles.