Eating Up To Race Day: A Handy Guide To Pre-Race Nutrition. SNACKNATION
There’s more to training than exercise. While a healthy exercise/rest cycle is essential to preparing for the toll any distance running will take on your body, your diet is similarly important if your goal is to run your best race.
Kenyan distance runners – renowned as some of the best in the world – eat a diet that consists of primarily whole, unprocessed foods that are grown locally. While there are many likely factors that contribute to their excellence on the world stage, their diet is a good source of inspiration for what you’ll want to eat while training.
Most of us aren’t elite athletes, but their diets can give us some insight into how we should fuel our bodies when preparing for a race. Much like the Kenyan runners, maintaining the right ratios and types of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) is essential to your muscle recovery.
Distance running is a high-intensity endurance workout, which means that your body will rely on its glycogen stores to fuel your workout. Glycogen is a multibranched polysaccharide derived from the carbs you consume through a process called glycogen synthesis. Glycogen is directly related to how long you can exercise before muscle exhaustion.
There are two distinct classes of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates sound harmless, but they’re often the refined sugar-laden products you’ll consume like cereal, soda, cookies, and etc. It’s best to avoid these in favor of more robust complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are your fibers and your starches. You’ll often find these in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They break down slower and regulate cholesterol, while promoting bowel regularity.
Complex carbs can be found in foods like apples, broccoli, quinoa, and beans.
In addition to carbohydrates, every runner needs to balance those with protein. The ideal ratio, depending on your individual needs and the intensity of your workout, is about three or four parts carbohydrate to each part protein, with the rest of your daily caloric intake coming from about 10-15% fats.
Elite Kenyan runners eat about 10.4 grams of carbohydrates and 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Proteins are important because they supply your body with the building blocks – branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) – it needs to repair muscles after the microscopic tears that occur during a workout. The best sources of BCAAs are fish, meat, dairy, and eggs.
Now that we’ve gone over what you should eat, how often should you be eating? For Kenyan runners, their breakdown is something like this with morning and afternoon training sessions:
- 8am – Breakfast
- 10am – Mid-morning snack
- 1pm – Lunch
- 4pm – Afternoon snack
- 7pm – Supper
Follow this framework and you’ll be better prepared come race day!
This guest post comes from Barron Rosborough of SNACKNATION
Until next time…
Reggae Marathon RunninGuy (aka Sugar ‘Tuff Gong’ Bong)
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