3x3 tips for the ideal race nutrition

Tara Vossers
Tara Vossers Vrijdag, 2 oktober 2015
3x3 tips for the ideal race nutrition

Spring is slowly approaching. For the avid runner, the racing season may have already begun. For the recreational runner, the nice weather is arriving and the itch to run arrives (again). During one of those fine training sessions in the spring sunshine, you decide to sign up for a race. Whether this is your first race or your 200th race, an ideal preparation in terms of nutrition remains a must. This week, the hardlopen.nl experts are tackling the subject of “being well prepared at the starting line”. Tara Vossers offers you 3 x 3 tips for ideal race nutrition. Ready to read along with us?

Before the start:

  1. Before the race, choose a meal that feels familiar. Do not eat or drink food you do not know on the day of the race. Nor is it wise to consume foods that your gastrointestinal tract is not used to dealing with prior to a workout or race. Have a meal consisting of familiar foods. Foods that you know are good fuel for running and that do not cause any complaints. So test this out for yourself during training sessions as well.
  2. Be on time with eating the last main meal before the match. Depending on when the starting shot is fired, it could be breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Eat the last main meal at least 2-3 hours before the race. Do you suffer from stomach or intestinal problems? If so, feel free to set a time of 2.5 hours. Is it an evening meal? Stick closer to 3 hours. When it comes to breakfast or lunch, 2 hours in advance will often suffice. You can eat something small, such as a slice of gingerbread or a banana, 30 to 60 minutes before the start. A well-tested sports drink can even be consumed just before the start.
  3. In preparation for a long-term race (e.g. a marathon), you can follow a special diet in the last few days. This diet only makes sense in a race that places heavy demands on glycogen reserves. For example, aim to slowly increase the amount of carbohydrates 6 days prior to the marathon, while at the same time decreasing the training intensity. As a result, the glycogen stores fill up with sugars – sugars that you can use during the marathon. There are various methods of “stacking” (also called “tapering off”). Be sure to be well-informed about this.

During the race:

  1. If you are susceptible to gastrointestinal problems during the race, only consume the drinks at a drink station that your body is familiar with. Do not try unfamiliar brands. There is always a chance of experiencing negative effects. If necessary, take your own drinks with you or ask someone you know along the route to hand you a water bottle.
  2. In principle, it is not necessary to eat during short races (up to 30 minutes). You can drink, but this is not an absolute must. In races lasting longer than 30-60 minutes, drinking is already much more important. In races lasting longer than 90 minutes, both drinking and eating are important.
  3. During the race (but also before the race), drink large amounts of water or sports drinks in one go. If you drink these quantities in small sips, the chance of “sloshing” is much greater. If you drink a quantity of 250 ml in one go, the stomach volume suddenly increases considerably and the stomach empties more quickly. This leaves little moisture behind, which prevents the “sloshing”.

After the finish:

  1. It often happens that a runner is neither thirsty nor hungry after finishing. Nevertheless, it is still extremely important to hydrate well. A shortage of fluids can hinder your body’s recovery, leading to possible injuries. And what about any headaches after a race? That can be a sign that you are not drinking enough! Agree with yourself on a minimum quantity to drink (for example, one 500 ml water bottle).
  2. After an intensive race, it is important to let your body recover properly. Unfortunately, this cannot be achieved solely by drinking enough. Eating is also an important component. Make sure you have a meal that includes enough carbohydrates (bread, fruit, pasta, muesli, sweet sports drink) and protein (dairy, boiled/fried egg, protein bar, protein shake, meat spreads).
  3. The recovery meal should be consumed in good time, preferably within 60 minutes after the finish. If this is not possible, for example because you have not arrived home within 60 minutes, it is important to bring the recovery meal along with you. Also if you know you will have to wait for an award ceremony, it may be wise to bring your recovery meal with you.
Tara Vossers
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Tara Vossers

Tara Vossers heeft als (sport)diëtiste een eigen praktijk in Doetinchem waar ze sporters begeleidt bij verantwoord afvallen en het geven van voedingsadvies aan (recreatieve) sporters.