Pre-Race Fueling

Pre-Race Fueling

This race week protocol is to support race week carb loading and fueling up to the start of an endurance event lasting longer than 2 hours. Use this program for marathons, ultras, and multi-sport events like 70.3 and 140.6.
 
4- Days Prior
  • Begin to Carb-Load at a rate of 45 to 55 calories per kg of weight depending on the taper week activity load. For athletes doing 1-2 hours of training a day aim closer to 45 while athletes training 2-4 hours aim closer to 55.
  • Use a ratio of 70% carbs, 15% protein and 15% fat. To consume foods this rich in carbohydrates compared to overall calories use a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates. You may find that you are consuming simpler carbs like sports drinks at rates higher than during regular training to do this. You will continue this until 1-day before the race.
  • Consume your calories evenly spaced out as per usual. Place the additional carbohydrate intake during and post workouts. Do not eat to the point of being “stuffed” at any point.
 
2-Days Prior
  • Continue to eat the same as 4-Days prior. Today is traditionally a lower activity or rest day so consume your extra carbs at your evening meal. The 2-day out dinner is your “pasta dinner” or “carb load meal.” At this dinner continue to avoid eating to a point of being overly stuffed.
 
1-Day Prior
  • Consume a rate of 30 to 40 calories per kg based on activity level for the day. If having a rest day consume close to 30 cal or if doing a short training session consume close to 40 calories. Aim to eat your last “big meal” at breakfast and begin to taper down at lunch. Do not eat to the point of being “stuffed” at any point.
  • Meals should consist primarily of easily digested food such as carbohydrates and fluids starting at lunch today. Consume protein only in small amounts, and lower fat intake to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal upset. Keep in mind that carbohydrates high in fiber and gas-forming foods such as legumes, onions, cabbage, and bran products, are not recommended on the day before a big event as they may cause intestinal discomfort.
 
4-Hours Prior
  • The morning of the race, if properly fueled, the body has roughly 500g of available carbohydrate between blood glucose, liver glycogen, and stored glycogen in the muscles. The liver contains 100g of glycogen and will deplete within 3-5 hours of rest. It is for this reason that topping off early and often in the morning is essential. During this time the goal is to replenish glycogen loss from sleep as well as building glycogen for the rest of the morning. Only use familiar foods at this time that are easy to digest, limiting fiber and fat; if possible use shakes and sports nutrition.
  • Fluids: 5-7 ml/kg of fluid w/salt tablet if using plain water
  • Macros: 4g of carb per kg up to 360g, .25g of protein per kg up to 20g
  • Limited fat and fiber
  • Source: fruit juices, sports drinks, chomps, gels, bars, fruit, and familiar food like oats. Keep a good mix of simple sources, avoid more than 90g of fructose. *Simple sugars like honey, agave, and sugar are 50% fructose.
 
2-Hours Prior
  • This meal is optional if you ate a full meal 4 hours prior to the race. Use this time to cap off at a rate of no more than 2g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. If a meal was consumed at the 4-hour mark eat up to .5g per kg up to 60g. Use simple carbohydrate such as sports drinks, gels, and chomps.
  • If limited on time making the 2-hour meal the first meal of the day consume 2g of carb per kg up to 180g as well as 3-5ml/kg of fluid w/salt tablet if using plain water.
  • If topping off consume 30 – 60g while topping off with fluid as needed.
  • Try to eliminate fat, fiber, and protein at this point.
  • Source: fruit juices, sports drinks, chomps, gels, bars. Avoid more than 60g of fructose.
 
90-Mins Prior
  • Within 90 minutes of the race start and up to 60 minutes, consume only liquid or semi-solid fuel sources, such as sports drinks, carbohydrate gels or chomps. This is because there is not sufficient time for solid foods to digest. Taking in anything solid at this point may put you at risk for gastrointestinal upset. Limit this meal to 1g of carbohydrate per a kg up to 60g if this is the first meal. If this is part of a continued morning of topping off limit this feeding to 30g of carbohydrate.
  • Consume 30 – 60g carb with fluid as needed
  • No fat, fiber, or protein from here forward as these will slow digestion.
  • Source: gel, sports drinks, chomps ensuring a mix of glucose and fructose sources.
 
15-Mins Prior
  • If you can tolerate it, take in a final carbohydrate gel, which provides approximately 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates. You can carry this with you through your warm-up by tucking it into your wetsuit sleeve. Otherwise, at this point, it is best to only take in liquids, such as sports drinks and water. You may want to time this last liquid intake and amount to leave enough time to empty your bladder before the race start; peeing while waiting to start is easier than once you do start. If the race permits, you can bring a disposable bottle for water or a sports drink to the swim start.
  • Consume 20 – 30g carb with fluids as needed
  • Source: gel, sports drink, chomps with a primary mix of glucose sources, E.g., dextrose and maltodextrin

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