Gearing up for a competition
The week before
What you eat and drink during the week before a competition can have a huge effect on your performance.
An accepted practice before a race is to taper training the week before the race and to increase carbohydrate intake in order to have your glycogen levels as high as possible.
Reducing your training will also decrease the use of muscle glycogen.
You should increase the carbohydrate content of your diet to about 70%, or around 8-10g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight.
Examples of foods and drinks containing 50g of carbohydrate:
-2 large bananas or 3 apples, orange or pears
-3 slices thick sliced bread or 1 bagel
-2-3 slices malt loaf
-1 large bowl breakfast cereal
-4 tablespoons cooked rice
-8 tablespoons cooked pasta (200G)
-75g noodles (1 sheet)
-1 medium jacket potato
-1 can baked beans (400G)
-15 dried apricots
-2 cereal bars
-1 litre semi-skimmed milk
-500ml fruit juice
-800ml isotonic sports drink
-330ml fruit smoothie
Drink copiously water during the week before your race to get your body well hydrated.
The day before
You should really rest or do just a little light exercise the day before your race.
For the food, it is best to stick to the food you eat usually. Don’t try anything new, avoid high fat and indigestible foods. Eat something simple like this quick and easy pasta dish with mushrooms.
Eat enough to be sure your body is fuelled-up but don’t eat too much or you may struggle to sleep.
Eat your pre-competition breakfast 2-3 hours before the start time to make sure it is properly digested and does not sit in the stomach.
If you are doing distance event, it is best to eat as late as possible- up to 90 min before the event.
Try to drink ½ litre of water approximately three hours before the race and then just sip on water or a sports drink.
If the event is in the afternoon, eat a really good breakfast and then have a light, easy-to-digest lunch.
During the race
Your performance and endurance can be enhanced with extra carbohydrate during the race, especially if you are taking part in an event lasting over 90 minutes.
It is important to find what suits you best so try different strategies:
-Eat something solid like a banana.
-Drink a carbohydrate sports drink.
MOST IMPORTANT: Refuel and rehydrate as quickly as possible.
Try to eat a high-G.I snack within 15 minutes of finishing because it really does speed your recovery up.
Have a delicious post-event meal as soon as you can and make sure it is balanced. It needs to be high in high-G.I carbohydrate with a decent amount of protein and minerals.
Listen to your body, rest and enjoy yourself with some great food and drink.