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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: race prep

Guest Post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris’, I wonder where the starting line to the 39th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run is?  What better way to shake out the winter blues, celebrate vitality, and revel in a new season than to hop on over to Coleman Avenue and get your 10K on by participating in one of the premier road races in the country?!  Perhaps you’ve indulged in too many Easter basket treats, or maybe just feeling sluggish from winter.  Prepping yourself for the Cooper River Bridge Run is a perfect time to refocus your nutrition.  In making your weekend plans, spend a bit of time planning your pre- and post race nutrition for the week in advance so as to eliminate stress and discomfort come race day.  For both experienced, and novice runners alike, a race takes preparation, strength, and energy, and how you approach your pre-race eating plan can affect all three. Throughout training, your diet plays a significant role in helping you perform and recover; a correctly balanced pre-race nutrition plan will contribute towards your best performance.  If you are a professional, world class runner, or got struck with a little Spring Fever and signed up last week, here are a few tips on giving yourself everything your body needs to have a successful and enjoyable race.

WEEK PRIOR: Moderate quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods will fill your glycogen stores throughout the week leading up to the race. Depending on the length of your race, shoot for about 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day, with foods like oatmeal, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. For example, a 150-pound adult would need at least 450 grams of carbohydrates per day. Many runners focus so much on getting enough carbohydrates that they don't pay enough attention to their protein consumption. Protein is used for some energy, but mostly in repair of tissue damaged during training. Again, depending on your training/length of race, you should consume .5 to .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  Good sources of protein are fish, lean meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, egg whites, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and some vegetables.  Being a long distance race, you’ll want to aim for the higher amount of carbohydrate and protein per pound body weight.  This is the time to experiment with discovering which foods work best for you, and which foods you want to avoid…experimenting on race day is never a good idea!

DAY BEFORE: Many beginning runners hear that “carbo-loading” before a race is a good idea and mistakenly overindulge on enormous portions of carbohydrate-rich foods. Gone are the days of indulging in stacks of pancakes or sitting down to an all-you-can-eat pasta bowl.  Instead, continue eating as you have in the week leading up to the race, increasing your intake of up to 5.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight; a 150-pound adult would need up to 825 grams of carbohydrates. Foods with a moderate to high glycemic index are your best choices before a race. Eat foods like whole-wheat pastas, which contain 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per dry cup serving, and vegetables.

MORNING OF:   As a 10K(6.2m), this race is considered a long distance race.  For longer races, your body will require more fuel.  With an 8am start, a more substantial meal is warranted approximately 2 hours prior to start, so set that alarm just a little extra early.  In addition to your meal, it is good practice to have a light snack 1 hour prior to the race.  I’m not talking about Reese’s peanut butter eggs or chocolate bunnies…bring a granola bar, energy chews, GU, etc. as a option for more sustained energy release and a lower possibility for GI distress.

In making food choices, it’s always best to stick with what you know works. No one wants any surprises waiting in cue or during your run!  A well-rounded diet of lean meats, legumes, dairy, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to set your self up for success come race day. Some foods to include in race preparation are:

*Whole grain pastas, brown rice     *Lean proteins; salmon, chicken

*Fresh fruit          *Fruit/Vegetable juice                   *Oatmeal

*Bagels                  *Yoghurt drizzled with honey       *Toast with nut butter

Some foods to avoid in race preparation are:

*Cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cauliflower     *Sugar-free items/artificial sweeteners

*Bran; cereals, muffins     *Caffeine(unless you regularly consume)

*Fried foods     *fatty meats/high fat cheeses     *alcohol

Another extremely important and often forgotten about component of pre-race preparation is proper hydration practices. Many runners underestimate how much fluid they actually lose during their runs and don't drink enough while they're running as well as post workout/race. The result?  Dehydration. This is detrimental to performance and dangerous for your health. In the days leading up to your race, you’ll know you’re properly hydrated if you void a fairly large volume of pale urine at least six times a day. On the day of, drink 8-16oz. of water one to two hours before the race, and then another 4-8oz just before. Consumption will vary depending on the duration of your race.

ONE HOUR OR LESS
Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tougher runs over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to replace electrolytes and glycogen.

ONE TO FOUR HOURS
Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbohydrates and electrolytes will replenish sodium.

POSTRUN
Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes after your run(approximately 8-24oz).

Now that you’ve gotten your (bunny)tail across the finish line, what comes next? Post race practices are very important in regards to recovery. Replacing fluids lost and replenishing glycogen stores are crucial and the window of opportunity is small.  It is best to consume a recovery ‘meal’ within the first 30 minutes after completion of the run. The optimum ratio is 3:1 carbohydrates to protein.  Depending on your preference, this meal can take the form of nutrition bars, recovery sports drinks, or even chocolate milk.   There are numerous sponsors that provide fantastic goodies such as yoghurt, peanut butter crackers, bananas, oranges, and more for all runners, so there is certainly no excuse in consuming your post-race snack and replenishing fluids lost.  For longer runs, you should also take in a full meal within 2 hours of completing your race that contains lean proteins, carbohydrates, and maybe even a post-race treat…you deserve it!  This attention to detail in your meals leading up to your race will definitely take a bit of planning, but getting the proper nutrition for pre and post race will not only help your performance and recovery, but will make the experience over all much more enjoyable and successful!


 

Guest post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

138,336 feet doesn’t sound too far, right?  How about 26.2 miles?  That sounds much farther, but it’s the same distance…and that is the official distance of a marathon.  The distance was originally set at 24 miles to commemorate the Greek soldier called Pheidippides, who ran 24 miles from a battlefield in Marathon to Athens to deliver news of victory. Those extra 11,616 feet, or 2.2 miles were added by decree of the International Olympic Committee at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, England, so the race would finish in front of the Royal box at White City Stadium.  The distance of 26.2 has been regulation since.  That kind of mileage is no joke.  Legend has it that our man Pheidippides died promptly after his run to deliver his message.  Training for a marathon takes intense preparation, dedication, and skill.  I’m not saying you’ll die if you run a marathon without training, but the chances of you having a successful and enjoyable race will greatly increase if you’re properly prepared!  Depending on your experience, training for mileage like this can take anywhere from 4-6 months, and up to a year for less experienced runners.  This is definitely not a race you can just sign up for and give it a go.  There are a number of variables that can determine the outcome of your training efforts, and eventually, your race day.

Diet.  Throughout training, your diet plays a significant role in helping you perform and recover.  In making food choices, it’s always best to stick with what you know works. You do not want to experiment the day of the race.  A well-rounded diet of lean meats, legumes, dairy, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to set your self up for success come race day.  Foods with a moderate to high glycemic index are your best choices before a race.  Glycogen stores will deplete over long distances, so practice during your long and semi-long runs with the sports drink and energy gels you intend to refuel with during the race.  While staying hydrated is key to performance, marathoners often get into trouble by over hydrating (hyponatremia).  This can be quite serious.  As you become dehydrated, less oxygen, fuel, and electrolytes are delivered to working muscles, resulting in fatigue, injury, and possible cardiac implications.  In addition to fluids, there are significant nutrient losses during races lasting 1-4+ hours.  It is best to take advantage of a sports drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes to offset these losses during your race.

Race Prep.  Select the shoes, socks, and attire you'll wear in the marathon. The shoes should be fairly lightweight, but provide good support.  Do not wear brand new shoes the day of your race. You should do a mid-long distance run in your shoes at race pace to determine whether you'll develop blisters or sore feet. If the shoes bother you on this run, get yourself another pair.  Many running specialty stores offer gait analysis which may be helpful in determining which shoe is best for you.  It may not seem so, but attire is very important.  Be aware of weather conditions, and dress accordingly. Non-cotton/technical moisture-wicking fabric is essential for comfort and prevention of chaffing.

Training Habits.  Research your race and determine the terrain.  If at all possible, start doing runs on the same topography as the marathon. If your race is hilly, incorporate hills or incline work to your training.  Flat may sound easy, but you’ll be using the same muscles the entire time, so you must be prepared.  If at all possible, run at the same time of day as the start of your marathon. As a result, your body's rhythms (especially your bathroom routine) will be in sync with the demands of the marathon come race day.

Pre-Race Habits.  Extra sleep prior to a race is critical. Your body will really appreciate it the day of.  The day before, continue eating as you have in the week leading up to the race, but increasing your intake of up to 5.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.  For longer races, your body will require more fuel.  A more substantial meal is warranted approximately 2 hours prior to start, so set that alarm just a little extra early.  In addition to your meal, it is good practice to have a light snack 1 hour prior to the race.  A granola bar, energy chews, GU, etc. are good options for more sustained energy release and a lower possibility for GI distress.  Maintain the hydration practices you’ve been following during training.  Consume three to six ounces of fluid (water and sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes and prevent dehydration.  An hour prior to start, find a quiet place to spend a few moments reviewing your race plan and motivation.  Remind yourself of why you're there and be confident in the months of effort you’ve put in.

Post Race.  While every fiber in your body may be screaming for rest…keep moving.  Gentle stretching and lower intensity cardiovascular movements, such as walking, for up to 60 minutes after the race, will help diminish a lot of post-race stiffness.  Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes after your run (approximately 8-24oz).  Post race practices are very important in regards to recovery. Replacing fluids lost and replenishing glycogen stores are crucial and the window of opportunity is small. It is best to consume a recovery ‘meal’ within the first 30 minutes after completion of the run. The optimum ratio is 3:1 carbohydrates to protein. Depending on your preference, this meal can take the form of nutrition bars, recovery sports drinks, or even chocolate milk. For a long run such as this, you should also take in a full meal within 2 hours of completing your race that contains lean proteins, carbohydrates, and maybe even a post-race treat…you deserve it!  And finally…CELEBRATE!!!  You’ve completed a major accomplishment.  You have earned your bragging rights as being part of the 0.5% of Americans that have run a marathon. Be proud of all of your planning and sacrifices.  Wear that race t-shirt with pride and make sure to slap your little black and white 26.2 sticker on your car when you get home!

 

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