Race Day Nutrition
By Marni Sumbal
Nutrition can either make or break your race. Fortunately, nutritional fueling is one of the few things in a race day plan that is in your control. As for what's out of your control? You cannot control the terrain of the course, the weather, the number of registered athletes, what time the race will start and the port-o-john lines.
In addition to training, there are three important variables that can help you feel confident on race day.
1) You can control your racing plan. For example, how fast or slow you will race in order to preserve muscle glycogen. Based on the duration of the event, your goal is to race as efficiently as possible in order to conserve energy while controlling heart rate. Within your racing plan, you can also control what you wear. Dependent on the weather, it is important that you dress appropriately in an effort to control core body temperature throughout the day.
2) You can control your nutrition. What you consume on the days before, the morning of and throughout the race will affect how you perform on race day. When it comes to putting your training to the test, nothing is more important than the quality and quantity of training fuel. Experimentation and awareness of your body will allow you to feel confident when it comes to race day nutrition.
3) You can control your attitude. How well do you respond to stress and anxiety? How determined are you in meeting your race day goals. Are you the type of athlete that gives energy to others or takes it away?
Because there are no guarantees in racing, keep in mind that your goal is to not only prevent nutrition-related problems but to learn how to deal with them when they arise. Lastly, be realistic with your race day goals. Sadly, no amount of nutrition is going to allow you to run six-minute miles if you haven't trained your body to do so.
Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietitian degree. She is a 4x Ironman finisher and has qualified for the 2011 Ironman World Championship. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.
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