Five Tips for Race Day Fueling

It’s no secret that one of the most critical success factors in having a great race day-especially for longer distances-is getting the right amount of hydration and fuel to keep you going. And the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend has a top-notch program for distributing that kind of hydration and fuel support.

But even with all of that on-course support, you need a plan for how to use it. Here are five tips from Beth Mansfield, Ph.D., on fueling for the big race:

  1. Whatever your fueling or fluid plan is, it should have already been done in training to test it out beforehand. Use your tried and trusted pre-run meal to start your day.
  2. Consume carbohydrate rich foods 3 to 4 hours before the race to make sure that you have restored liver glycogen after your overnight fast. Low glycemic index carbohydrates are a great choice for prerace foods and fluids. Low glycemic index carbohydrates include corn chips, lowfat yogurt, low-fat milk, apple slices, tomato juice, pasta, lentils, and hummus.
  3. Pre-race jitters can eat up sugar. While you are waiting in the start area, keep your blood sugar topped up by bringing a pre-race, easy to digest, small carbohydrate rich snack.
  4. During the race, most runners should aim for 30 to 60 g of carbohydrate per hour. Consuming more than that can lead to GI distress. PowerGels (available in the marathon and half marathon) contain 27 g of carbohydrate per packet and are easy to eat. However, gels are concentrated carbohydrates and should be accompanied by water and consumed slowly over the course of the race.
  5. This year there will be orange slices and cut bananas on the marathon course. If you have been using solid foods in your training, then go for it! If you’re not used to taking solid foods while running, try grabbing an orange slice, sucking on it for the juice, and then chasing with water.

About Beth Mansfield and Peak Performance
Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, PhD, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa. Beth educates Canadian athletes on sport nutrition for health and performance.

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