Long-distance runner or not, you’ve likely heard of the act known as ‘carbo-loading’. Increasing carbs while decreasing mileage in the days leading up to race day is a common practice for those of us who hit the marathon pavement. As carbs are an essential fuel source to sustain us on those long runs, increasing our intake of carbohydrate-rich foods (think pasta, rice, cereals) before a race helps prepare us to cross that finish line with a smile.
Below are the essential DOS and DON’TS while carbo-loading and planning your nutritional intake for a marathon or half-marathon.
DON’T order a meal you haven’t consumed before. Avoid channeling your inner Jamie Oliver by whipping-up something new in the kitchen. Regardless of how many races you’ve participated in, your nerves are likely kicked into high-gear prior to race day. Stick with something familiar.
DO monitor your nutritional intake 2-3 days leading up to a race. Ensure you are consuming breakfast, lunch and dinner that fall in-line with the calorie intake that is appropriate for your body.
DON’T over-indulge. Carbo-loading doesn’t mean you can eat everything in-sight.
DO hydrate with familiar beverages. Coconut water (no-pulp) is a favourite of mine. Carry a water bottle with you and drink like it’s going out of style, especially if you are visiting and exploring a beautiful new city.
DON’T drink alcohol in the 2-3 days leading up to the race. Alcohol puts undue stress on your liver – something you don’t need before race day.
DO prepare your pre-race breakfast in advance. When running a destination race, I have a banana, oatmeal and water set on the night table before I fall asleep. Make your race morning as easy as possible.
DON’T eat quick-fix foods, such as processed snacks and fast breakfasts. Saturated fat and salt are a sure-way to decrease your energy – and they won’t satisfy your hunger in the long-run.
Most of all? DO have fun!
Keep on training – and don’t forget these nutritional DOS and DON’TS.
Enjoy your pasta, everyone.