• Tom Shand

Countdown to the Crazyman

Time is ticking, so it's time you started ticking some things off your event to-do list. Here are 5 things you can do to ensure that your nutrition is sorted for race day.

1. Eat well everyday

Eating well everyday is the foundation for feeling good and performing well. What I mean by eating well everyday is following the usual healthy eating guidelines in the build up to the event.

To be fair, you should be doing this all the time anyway, but if your day-day-day diet traditionally leaves something to be desired, here are the basics that you should aim to achieve in the week leading up to the event:

  • Cut the crap. Try to remove junk food, high sugar/fat foods, takeaways etc from the diet. An easy way of doing this is to eat 'real food'. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, lentils, potatoes, kumara, rice, and dairy products are real food. Soft drink, chips, muesli bars, Burker King, lollies, etc are not.

  • Eat balanced meals. Include protein, grainy carbohydrates, and lots of vegetables in each meal. Snack on fruit, nuts, seeds, yoghurt etc.

  • Drink plenty of water (but don't buy bottled water).

  • Eat three regular meals of even sizes.

2.Consider carbohydrate loading

If you are going to be pushing yourself hard on event day, and your event is longer than three hours, carbohydrate loading may be a good idea (see point number 5 though, you should practise this prior to event week). Carbohydrate loading does not actually require a great deal more than your usual diet (provided you consume regular portions of carbs in your normal diet). Here is a basic guide:

  • Carbohydrate loading takes place for the 3 days leading up to your event. If the event is on a Saturday, carb load on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Some people like to wind back the day before though.

  • Aim for a two serves of carbohydrates at each meal. One serve is approximately the size of your fist.

  • Top this up with three carbohydrate containing snacks over the day.

  • Get additional carbs through a dessert after one meal, or one glass of sugary drink (e.g. orange juice) per day.

3. Practise your race day breakfast

  • Your pre-event meal should be high in carbs, and moderate/low in protein and fat.

  • It should be a meal which is familiar to you - i.e you should have practised it in training.

  • Consume this meal 1 - 3 hours priot to your event starting.

I recommend consuming the meal you plan on having on event day everyday in the week leading up to the event, if possible at the time you will have it on event day.

4. Sort your race-day nutrition plan

Check out my guide to sorting your Crazyman event day nutrition plan here.

5. Don't try anything on race day that you haven't trialled in training.

This is super important. The final touches you put on your race week in terms of nutrition can make a difference to your performance, but if you have not practised these during training then there is a chance that these changes could cause an unforseen and unwanted problem. If you haven't practised it during training, and you are not confident that you will tolerate it, don't risk introducing it at the last minute.

Here's a quick personal story to put this in perspective. I watched the London marathon in April 2013 and said to myself, "Tom, you are going to do that next year, and you are going to do it under three hours." I lay down the challenge, and I put into place a whole host of systems and processes to give myself the best possible chance of achieving my goal. I left nothing to chance.

That is, until I got some new socks for race day. They were slightly thicker than my usual socks, and as a result I developed pain in my feet and blisters. I noticed this early in the race and took some paracetamol to ease the pain. I hadn't taken paracetamol during training, and, maybe it had nothing to do with the paracetamol, but for the first time (I never had it during training), at the 25km mark, I got a crippling stitch. I had to slow my pace and battle through the pain for 5km. It nearly derailed me, but fortunately it was gone by the 30km mark and I was able to claw back the time I lost over the following 12km, just sneaking under my 3hr goal (by 16 seconds!!).

I came so close to not achieving a goal I had worked for a whole year, and a pair of new socks was nearly a contributing factor to that. That is one example of why you should never do something on race day that you have not trialled in training.

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The Trailblazer Nutrition Programme is an interactive, personalised, nutrition plan designed specifically for you by our sports dietitian, Tom Shand. With ongoing contact with Tom, your nutrition for training and on event day is sorted. Click here for more details.

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