With race week just around the corner (ahh!) I wanted to talk a little bit about what I do during race week leading up to race day! Otherwise known as…
I consulted a couple of my favorite go-to books to see what they had to say about the whole carbohydrate loading deal and to answer some of my basic questions. The following information comes from either
my running bible Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger or Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners by Nancy Clark. Both are excellent reads and great resources!
I am running substantially less during race week, so how should I adjust my eating quantities?
“The biggest change in your schedule during the week before your marathon should be in your training, not in your food. You’ll want to taper off your training so that your muscles have the opportunity to become fully fueled.” – Nancy Clarks Food Guide For Marathoners
In short, keep your calorie intake the same and the calories you usually burn running will be used as fuel for your muscles. Win!
What kind of food should I be eating?
Eat your normal diet “up until the last 3 days before the race and taper your training program to about half your normal training load.” – Advanced Marathoning
Then the carb loading begins! The 3 days leading up to the race start increasing your carbohydrates and do some short, easy runs to get your body to store glycogen. Marathoners should eat ~60% of their calories from carbohydrates on a daily basis during training, so the last 3 days this percentage should increase.
Don’t eat a ton of fat since it leaves “the muscles less fueled.” – Nancy Clarks Food Guide For Marathoners
You should also eat protein with your meal (not as your meal) since your body needs protein daily and “endurance runners even burn a little protein for energy.” – Nancy Clarks Food Guide For Marathoners
If I am eating the same, but not running as much will I gain weight?
Weight gain before the marathon is not uncommon and is ok! It actually is a good sign that you are fueling properly.
“Your body stores 2.6 grams of water for every gram of glycogen. The added weight is just extra fuel to help you get through the marathon, and the stored water will help prevent dehydration.” – Advanced Marathoning.
What else do I think about?
During race week I just make sure to keep my diet as clean as I can. I get impatient and antsy and hungry, but I know soon enough I will be able to celebrate with the good (bad?) stuff. I save the cookies, candy, and junk until after the marathon, and I often have it waiting for me in my gear check (not joking)!
The other thing I really pay attention to is hydration! I really watch my fluid intake during the week and make sure I am drinking water constantly, more constantly than normal. Towards the end of the week as I get closer to race day, I start drinking an electrolyte drink like Gatorade. Lots of trips to the bathroom happen this week!
As with EVERYTHING in running, finding what works for YOU is the key. You should be practicing most of these things during training and before your long runs. Nothing new on race day (or race eve)!
How do you change your eating habits during race week?