Last night Derek and I were discussing my upcoming triathlon, and how I should be preparing. I'm pretty happy with my training schedule (biking/running 3x a week) but I was a little concerned about my diet. I'm no nutritionist or dietician (though I work with a few) so I wasn't sure exactly what my body would need for fuel in the weeks and days leading up to the triathlon.
After some reading and research, there's a basic consensus among the experts: carbs. That's right, its okay to carb-load if you're training for a big event (lasting 1+ hours or more). So here are some tips I've accumulated that I decided to share:
One week before the event:
-Avoid the consumption of alcohol. Since alcohol metabolizes slowly in our bodies, it can leave us feeling fatigued and worn down during the event. It's best to save the beer for after-celebrations. You'll deserve it!
-Don't try anything new. Stick to meals/restaurants/snacks that are familiar to you and that you know won't give you any "tummy troubles." You wouldn't want to go into a race feeling sick and/or dehydrated because of the runs after going to the new Thai place.
-Eat carbs before your training sessions and protein after. Carbs metabolize into glycogen, which is like super unleaded gas for our bodies. Protein after the event/training session helps to restore and heal our muscles.
-Hydrate. Le duh, you want to stay properly hydrated every day but it is essential to stay hydrated the week before a race or event.
The day before:
-Eat a high carb, low fat, low fiber (don't wanna have to stop in a porta potty on race morning) early dinner, about 12 hours before the race is scheduled to begin. Drink an electrolyte drink along with dinner. A good example is spaghetti with a low-fat meat sauce, but remember, eat only what you're used to.
-Don't drink too much water or Gatorade. You are not a camel and unfortunately cannot store water for later.
-Go to bed early and get a good night's sleep
The morning of:
-Eat a light breakfast such as a bagel or whole wheat toast with peanut butter. A high-carb, low residue breakfast will restore glycogen and go easy on your tummy.
-About an hour before the event, sip on a Gatorade to keep glucose levels steady.
-Pack a carb drink or gel for about midway through the race to restore glycogen and energy to the body. Be sure to pack plenty of water (I suggest a camelbak or something similar) and at least one sports drink for the bike.
After the race:
-Refuel with carbs and protein (a banana plus nut butter) to help restore muscle energy.
-Go have that beer you've been craving and celebrate that you just finished your tri (or other event)!
If you've ever participated in a tri or other event, what was your race week diet? I'd love to hear any tips or opinions you have!
If you live in the area, it's still not too late to sign up! Read more about the event here and here.