The fantastic Porirua Grand Traverse is just round the corner, so hopefully you have been using nutrition wisely during training. Sports nutrition is not just for elite athletes, doing some simple things well can make your big day a lot easier and help you enjoy the course as much as possible.
The Traiblazer Nutrition Golden Rule states: Never try something on race day that you haven't tried in training.
This is borne out of the fact that while clever use of nutrition can improve performance for those who have practised it, it can also be the downfall for the beginner eater/exerciser. Stomach cramps, bloating, fuzzy fingers, headaches are all symptoms of a nutrition plan gone wrong, so if you haven't been practising chowing down the gels, race day is not the time to start.
In saying that, you've possibly got one or two more opportunities to exercise before event day, so you could trial a sports drink or gel to see if they agree with you. Aim for at most 30g per hour of carbohydrates from all drinks and food that you consume.
If you have been using gels/bars/food/sports drink in training, great, but for improved performance, a formal plan is necessary. Ask yourself the following questions:
What is my goal time? How much carbohydrate am I aiming for per hour?
Trailblazer Recommends: For the beginner eater, no more than 30g/hr. If you have been practising using food in training, more may be tolerated.
Multiply your goal time by how much carbohydrates you need each hour and take that much carbs with you on course.
How much fluid will I be drinking, and will this be contributing to my carb intake?
Remember, if you are having sports drink, then you will be getting carbs from this as well.
Trailblazer Recommends: You should have some sort of an idea about how much you drink from training. Stick to this on event day. If you have no idea, drinking to thirst is the safest option in the absence of a hydration strategy that you have practised during training. Aim to carry enough so you can drink between 400-800ml per hour. You will be on the lower side of this if you are going slower and it is a cold day. If you are planning on going fast, and it is a hot day, you will need closer to 800ml per hour.
Check out what your particular event has in the way of aid stations, and use them to save carrying unnecessary weight.
Plan your race day carefully so there are no surprises and you are nice and relaxed.
The night before:
Lay out your gear, and check that you have everything
Prep your breakfast so you can have this in a relaxed setting
Organise your gels and food and decide how many you will take
Fill up your drink bottles
Prepare a snack for after the event. My favourite is a pie and Speights, but you Wellingtonians may prefer a Garage Project.
Eat at least 2 hours prior to the start of your event.
Your pre-race meal should be high in carbs, and low in protein and fat.
Choose foods that you are familiar with and you have been using prior to your training sessions.
Don’t change your coffee drinking habit, if you often have coffee before training, then go for it, but otherwise don’t introduce it for the first time.
Trailblazer Recommends: Breakfast should be something that you are familiar with. If you've been training late Sunday mornings after a plate of bacon and eggs for breakfast all through training, then don't try and be good and have weetbix on race day for the first time.
Hydration: Don't overload in the morning, what goes in, must come out. Drink to thirst, and try not to drink in the last hour before the race.
From now on, eat whole, healthy, unprocessed foods including plenty of fruit and veggies. These are the oil to your Formula 1 car, so load up now. And keep up this habit once you have knocked this event on the head.
Quality carbohydrates are also best. Cut down on junky carbs that come in a packet (biscuits, crackers, dried noodles, sugary treats, and muesli bars). Focus on whole foods such as potato, rice, whole grain cereals, oats, and fruit.
Have fun! If it doesn't go to plan, remember this proverb "Whaia te iti kahurangi, Ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei". Pursue excellence, should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.