I had a pretty disastrous experience at the Easter 10k a couple of weeks ago that really brought home to me the importance of fuelling properly for a race.
The race was a late start, 10:30am, due to the Bank Holiday. I had porridge for breakfast at around 7:30am, but having run out of bananas and peanut butter, my usual additions, it was a pretty poor affair and by the time I arrived at the start line I was already hungry.
I foolishly had not brought any snacks with me either, so after the first lap felt sick and awful. Unfortunately the race was 3 laps (generally a pretty unenjoyable setup, I much prefer one longer loop to keep you interested), and once I had the negative thoughts in my head I couldn’t pick myself up again. I got slower and slower, walked most of the last lap and finished in my slowest ever time, feeling rubbish. I was so slow they’d even run out of Creme Eggs at the finish line (which was clearly the point in running an Easter Race!), sad times.
Despite this, it has made me think more carefully about what I eat before and after a race, so thought I would put together a quick blog post underlining some of the important points.
Before A Race
– Carb loading comes into effect any time you run more than 90mins, which will definitely be the case for my half marathon! This can just mean a slightly increased ratio of carbohydrates for the 2-3 days before the race, and not a significant increase in calories.
– It’s also important to drink lots of fluid in the days leading up to the event as well, so you start the race properly hydrated.
– The best pre-race breakfast consists mainly of carbohydrates, since they’re digested most rapidly and are your body’s preferred fuel source.
– It’s best to eat 2-3 hours before the race to allow time for digestion. Then an energy gel or quick snack 30-60mins before the race start will keep your energy levels high.
During A Race
– The first rule must be to practise your fuelling strategy in training. If a race is offering a certain brand of drinks or fuel on the course, then you can practise with those in your training runs.
– A quality carbohydrate/electrolyte replacement drink is a good idea to avoid dehydration and can be sipped throughout the course. My preferred brand is Zero High 5, but I’ve heard lots of positive reviews of Nuun as well! This is especially important if it’s a hot day.
After A Race
– The first 30mins after a race are thought to be important, and consuming something with a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio can aid recovery.
– One of my favourite options is chocolate milk! It contains simple sugars for fast energy, and carbohydrates that are released a little slower, as well as protein for recovery and bone strengthening Vitamin D and calcium. Bananas are also awesome 🙂
– For the next 48hours concentrate on eating plenty of carbohydrates and good quality protein to kick-start muscle repair.
What are your go-to race fuelling options? Have you ever had a fuelling “failure”?