It's one week to race day and now that you aren't running (you shouldn't be running! stop running!!) what do you do with all your time!?
Most of us spend the last week before a big race tweaking our outfit, prepping our dropbag, and compulsively checking the weather. But what we really should be focused on is resting and fueling our bodies. Here are a few things to consider:
Rule #1: Stop reading this blog post
Yup. You read it right (so why are you still reading??). This is when I tell you that "you've got this". You have spent however many months training, practicing your fueling strategies, figuring out what works and what doesn't, dealing (and hopefully addressing) any gastro issues (not speaking of the pub variety here), and tweaking your recovery foods. So really, you know YOU way better than I do. The key thing is to stick with what works and not deviate too much at this point. Having said that, there are a few simple approaches that could enhance your race day.
Rule #2: Hydrate
Pretty simple concept but so hard to do! This can be because of busy days, not liking the taste of plain water or simply forgetting. But pre-race hydration is key, and you really don't want to be showing up at the start line dehydrated. Here are a few simple tips to follow:
- Aim for 2L/day of liquids like water or herbal teas.
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times.
- Put reminders in your phone to remind you to drink.
- If you don't like plain water, add a squeeze of lemon, slice of fruit or herbs like mint for flavouring or drink herbal teas. Note I didn't say beer.
- Consider whipping up some bone broth! Homemade bone broth is an excellent source of minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium) not to mention amino acids, collagen and anti-inflammatory compounds, like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine that support healthy joints.
- Top up your liquids with hydrating foods like cucumber, celery, apples, watermelon, melon, and strawberries.
- Ease off the booze for a few days. Plenty of time to celebrate post race!
Rule #3: Don't just eat...FUEL your body
As an ultra runner, you should be following a nutrient dense diet. This is because running long distances, on top of burning lots of calories, will also deplete nutrients like iron, magnesium and zinc. The need to support the body with anti-inflammatory foods is also essential to speed up recovery time and reduce the effects of chronic inflammation. Without getting into too much detail, here are some principles to abide by:
- Eat whole foods. Think "things that don't come in a bag" like whole fresh proteins from animals (e.g., wild fish, game meats, grassfed beef, pastured chicken, pastured eggs) or vegetables (e.g., tempeh, firm tofu, lentils), unlimited vegetables of all colours, carbohydrates from whole grains, root vegetables and fruit and healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil, eggs, coconut oil).
- Limit refined sugar. The more you can minimize inflammation, the better a race you'll have. For now avoid the packaged treats and sports drinks. Stick with whole foods snacks like fruit, dried fruit, honey on plain yogurt or homemade energy balls to satisfy sugar cravings.
Rule #4: Carb it up
I'm sure you've heard this before but there's a reason for that. The more you can increase the glycogen stores pre-race, the longer it will take for them to get depleted and the easier they will be to replenish. The longer the event, the more important it becomes that your glycogen stores are full at the start. So ultrarunners...get your carbs on! But no this doesn't mean just pasta for 3 days...quality and variety are important:
- Eat 3 meals and at least 2 if not 3 or more snacks per day. This will make sure you are getting your carbs in at a steady rate.
- Drink some carbs. This is one of the few times I recommend getting calories from liquids (also during and post- race). Now is the time to indulge in some coconut water, beet juice or other fresh pressed vegetable juices, tart cherry juice or kombucha (still no beer here, and definitely no Coke).
- Eat more carbs than you're used to. Also decrease fat and moderate protein a little. Here are some ideas:
- Breakfast: Smoothie (frozen blueberries/berries/peaches, banana, 1/2 scoop high quality protein powder, handful spinach, hemp seeds, coconut water, scoop wheatgrass) or organic steel cut oats with fruit and pumpkin seeds.
- Lunch: sweet potato, carrot and fennel salad with vinaigrette, quinoa taboulleh, wild rice salad, sprouted grain wrap with hummus, spinach, red peppers, avocado and mashed sweet potato.
- Dinner: broiled wild salmon (chum is a great option!) or chicken, baked yams and beets, steamed beans with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Snacks: apples, melons, tropical fruits (banana, pineapple, mango, papaya), seed crackers, carrots and celery dipped in nut butter or hummus, fruit smoothies (make extra in the morning), Ezekiel or sprouted grain bread with nut butter and honey . If you are in a bind try Larabars, Nakd or ProBars.
Rule #5: Go the f*ck to sleep
Do I really need to explain this? You know it, I know and the research is clear. Try to squeeze in an extra hour or two every night over the week before race day. We all know you likely won't sleep well the night before and 'banking' some sleep can help stave of exhaustion on race day.
© Melissa Evanson 2017. For permission to reproduce or repost this post, email firstname.lastname@example.org