Don’t let the excitement of the week leading up to race day distract you from eating your best! Run your best race with this week-out game plan.
This is it..the last week leading up to your race. After months and months of hard training, you’re now in those final few days, checking to make sure all of your running gear, expo and race day travel plans are ready to go. But during this final week, don’t forget to prepare for the most important race day element:
It’s easy to get caught up with the excitement of race prep, so let’s take the guesswork out of the equation with the following meal planning tips:
1 WEEK OUT
Practice how you’ll eat
Now is the time to begin your diet rehearsal. Identify and practice the three meals you plan to eat leading up to the race. Seek out nitrate-rich foods (beets, arugula, swiss chard, basil, cilantro) as they are vasodilators (they expand your blood vessels allowing for faster blood flow to the heart and muscles), which speeds up the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your cells and increases the efficiency of energy production.
- 60-65% carbs
- 20-25% protein
- 10-15% fat
Listen to your thirst and monitor the color of your urine – it should be a pale yellow. Anything darker indicates dehydration, while clear urine indicates over-hydration, which dilutes electrolyte levels and can cause muscle weakness or cramping. Optional: Try drinking 16 ounces of beet juice to determine whether you can reap the benefits of vasodilation without digestive distress.
If possible, weigh yourself before and after an hour-long run (without drinking any fluids). The amount of weight loss reflects fluid lost through sweat. A one pound weight loss indicates you lost about 16 oz of fluid. Use this “rate of fluid loss per hour” as a guideline to find out how much fluid you need to drink per hour on race day to stay replenished.
2-3 DAYS OUT
Reconfigure your plate
Increase your carbohydrates to make up 70-75% of your meals. You can do this by simply adding an extra serving of carbohydrates to your plate — 1 cup pasta, 2/3 cup rice or quinoa, 1 slice of bread, or ½ a bagel. This extra serving will naturally decrease the concentration of fat and protein in your meals. Keep protein lean, and limit high-fat foods, which can cause digestive distress.
Listen to your gut
You know your body best. Depending on what your normal diet entails, you may be able to tolerate fiber better than others. Those who regularly follow a fiber-rich diet may be able to handle whole grains, beans, vegetables etc. For those with a more sensitive digestive system, a low-fiber diet will be your safest best. Here’s a free pass to enjoy a bowl of white pasta with no guilt or regrets.
To make it easier to digest and absorb nutrients from high-fiber foods, take the mechanical burden off your stomach. The more mechanically broken down your food is, the better. Think cooked vegetables (vs. raw), pureed fruits and veggies (smoothies, soups, mashes, purees), soaked beans, and slightly over-cooked grains, or, whole grains ground into flours in the form of whole grain pasta, crackers, bread. Similarly, thoroughly chewing your food helps break down tough fibers to ease digestion.
Now get out there, and run like a champ!
Adapted from the original article.
Lindsey Kane, MS, RD, LDN is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian helping others live a stress-free, balanced, and thriving life. By getting to know her clients inside and out, Lindsey identifies the opportunities within their everyday lifestyle to integrate subtle changes that create lasting, impactful results. Learn more at Bite For Change!