Four Things To Avoid Before A Race
The annual Comrades Marathon, due to be held on the 1st of June 2014 this year, is drawing closer. As athletes, many of you will have spent the last few months training as hard as possible to ensure success on the day of the race.
However, there are a few things that some athletes do in preparation for the race in the days or weeks leading up to any major race that significantly affects their personal performance.
While these practices and habits may make sense on a basic nutritional and fitness level, they sometimes complicate things when going into a big race like the Comrades.
The following is a list of four things to keep in mind during the week leading up to the big day.
1. Refrain from overloading on carbs
Ingesting carbohydrates allows your muscles to maintain energy levels and avoid fatiguing early in a race. This is common knowledge, and as a result, many athletes consume high amounts of carbs either before a workout (to sustain muscle energy during the exercise period) or after (to replenish lost energy stores). Whatever is not burned off is then stored as fat in the body.
However, if you’re going to try store all of the energy before your race, you might find yourself overdoing it and overloading your digestive system as a result, leaving yourself in a bad position once it comes time to start the race with your digestive system working extra hard to process all of the extra carbs.
Instead, eat moderate amounts of carbohydrates over the process of a few days before the race, allowing your digestive system to regulate itself, and giving your body to as much muscle energy as it may need. Once you’ve completed the race, you will find that you will have burned off any excess energy that might have otherwise been turned to fat.
2. Moderate your water and fluid intake
Staying hydrated during a race is one of the most fundamental and important things to remember, especially in long races such as the Comrades. However, drinking too much water or any fluid just before the race and thinking that it will sustain you throughout might cause major problems within your body.
Drinking a lot of water at one time will dilute any electrolytes your body has stored. These electrolytes are responsible for keeping your muscles reactive and maintaining elasticity in your skin and flesh. Without them, you may be subjected to weakened muscles, cramps and in some cases, severe dehydration.
In the days leading up to the race, drink water and fluids normally as you would to remain hydrated. On the morning of the race, around three hours prior to it, drink around a liter of water, during which time your body will process the water and allow any lost electrolytes to replenish. Then, just as you are gearing up to start the race, drink another cup or two, depending on the length of the race to allow your body to hydrate on the go.
3. Skipping breakfast
It is a natural feeling before a big race to feel uneasy, and sometimes, whenever we’re nervous, the sight of food might only worsen the feeling. When running a marathon as intensive as the Comrades, it is important to do your best to set aside these feelings and make sure you maintain a healthy sugar and energy level by eating a good breakfast the morning of the race. If you really feel you cannot manage to eat right before the race, wake up an hour or two earlier and take your time, letting each bite settle before taking the next.
Another option may be to drink a smoothie made of bananas, milk and fruit juice, which will be easier on your stomach, yet still give your body the energy it needs to power through the race.
4. Don’t be too adventurous the night before a race
You may find yourself in a situation the night before the race, which will afford you the opportunity to try a food type out, that you have never had before. Sushi enthusiasts will know that, until the first time you experiment with an item, you will have no way of knowing how it will affect your body.
The night before the race, make sure to not try any extravagant, spicy, exotic or experimental dishes. Stick to food that you eat regularly, such as your favorite pasta, to allow you to build up carb storage instead of falling victim to an upset digestive system. You will have all the time in the world to celebrate with a sushi platter once you have won the marathon. Stick to what you are sure of until you have reached your goal.