Race Day Nutrition – part 1

What does race-day nutrition mean? Does it mean you are only focused on the way that you execute a diet and caloric intake on a particular day? Or is it a broader and more complete picture? A way of preparing yourself for race day that allows for the best demonstration of your abilities and capabilities.

One of the major additions to my training this year has been working with Elevate by Nicci and Nicci Schock in order to address my overall diet and proper fueling for race day. By concentrating on a diet that is metabolically efficient, I am preparing my body to burn fuel more efficiently and to perform at my highest level with the strength of my nutrition. To that end, my diet consists of a balance between protein and carbohydrates, which in turn means that I consume a higher level of fat. On long training days and on races, the extra strain on my body is minimized because of the increased ability to burn fat as the primary energy source.

One of my goals for racing the Boston Marathon was to learn something about myself from the race. The slightly elevated race day temperatures helped to identify particular needs that I have in relation to heat. As it is, I sweat a lot. Throw in the added effects of race level effort and higher temperatures, and then my race day plan needs extra focus and development.

My plan for the race was pretty clear:

Pre-race: toast with pb, Surge energy shot, bottle of 2 scoop UCAN about 40 minutes out from race start, water 

Race: UCAN about 60min into the race, 2nd Surge gel with caffeine about mile 20; electrolyte tabs between mile 18-20.

The first part of the race went particularly well and my energy level was great. But, with the added heat levels, I needed more sodium and didn’t realize it until it was too late. I took my Klean electrolytes and the extra ones for backup from mile 18 to 21. This helped to keep my calves from cramping every step but was not enough to actually let me push for the remaining 4 miles. After the race, I had salt stains all over my shirt and shorts.

It wouldn’t mean much if the “learn something” stopped after the reflection of the race strategy. This weekend is my first triathlon of the season and we’re going to work on dialing in the nutrition plan even more. The every day fueling of being metabolically efficient is under control. Now it’s time to address sodium intake and sweat levels. The race distance, duration, air temperature, and water temperature all play a role in this. If my body is working to stay warm in the water, then extra energy is being spent. This needs to be accounted for in caloric consumption and sodium.

Adjustments to race plan

Race: electrolyte tabs throughout the bike and run to account for higher sweat rates; 2 scoop UCAN during the bike to replenish and allow for a glucose source for sodium consumption.

Jerseyman is not my main goal of the season. IM Chattanooga, in September, is the focus. Each race is an opportunity to identify potential areas of improvement and to strategize for ways to enable the best possible performance on race day. We’ll see how things go on Sunday. Either way, it’ll be a great start to the season.



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