Wouldn’t it be perfect if your energy levels were at their very peak on race day? With the right combination of reducing your running and tweaking your diet, you can fuel your muscles to have your greatest run ever!
1. Taper and take it easy
Resist the temptation to run too much in the week before your race. You’ve done the groundwork now, the best you can do is rest your muscles, sleep well, eat well and take it easy! Look after your legs! The day before, try not to walk too far.
2. Don’t eat too much!
Many athletes fall into the trap of eating too many calories, or eating the wrong foods during those critical few days before a race. The last thing you want it to stand on the start line feeling heavy and sluggish! Carbohydrates are converted into blood glucose and used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle. Your body can store enough carbohydrate to keep you going for approximately 90 minutes. Your job in the run up to the Half Marathon is to eat enough carbohydrate to keep your glycogen stores at their optimum. Choose nutrient-rich, slow-releasing (low to medium GI*) carbohydrates, the less refined the better, such as oats, basmati rice, pasta with tomato-based sauces, English muffins, wholemeal toast, plenty of fruit and vegetables.
3. Stick to plain and familiar
Pre-race nerves can play games with your tummy and the last thing you want is a loo stop mid-race! In the three days before your race, you might want to avoid really high fibre and spicy foods, such as lentils, pulses, bran and hot curries, even if you normally include them in your healthy training diet, and avoid unfamiliar foods the night before.
4. Little and often
If you feel too nervous to eat a proper meal, try to eat smaller meals and snacks – ‘little and often’. Try these yummy flapjacks – they may help towards a PB!
5. Hydrate well all week
You’ll enjoy your race far better if your body is well-hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the days prior to the event and don’t forget that tea, coffee, squash, smoothies, juicy fruits and fruit juices, even soups, will also boost your fluid intake. Keep checking that your pee is a light straw colour and try not to drink too much alcohol! See Rethink Your Drink.
6. Pre-event breakfast
With the taper and your pre-race diet, you should be feeling like a coiled spring, ready for action! On event day, eat what you normally eat before a long training run. Not too much, you just need to ‘top up the tank’. Eat around 2 hours before the race.
We love the porridge with blueberries. Packed with slow-releasing carbohydrate and not too heavy, it’s a perfect pre-run breakfast.
If it’s hot, you might prefer some muesli or whole wheat cereal, toast, basically eat whatever you normally eat for breakfast before your runs! Drink 500ml water, or diluted juice as soon as you wake up, or with your pre-race breakfast and sip on a bottle of water on your way to the start, if you like. Don’t drink too much now, or it will be sloshing around in your stomach when you run. Do the pee test – once your urine is light in colour, then you are fully-hydrated.
Lastly? Get to the start line in plenty of time & enjoy the run!
Relax, soak up the atmosphere, pace yourself and have the best time ever.