Did you know a runner’s pace plummets by a whopping 30% after their body runs out of carbohydrates? Dehydrated runners can experience performance drops of up to 60%.
Whether you’re biking or running, the way you fuel your body has a significant impact on your performance during a race and fluid intake is just as important as diet. Learn how to finish strong during your next big race!
Here are 5 Tips to Fuel for Race Day
What you do the days or hours leading up to race day can greatly affect your performance...
1) Eat the Right Amount of Carbs
Carbohydrates are your body's key source of energy. After glycogen levels deplete, you can expect to slow down quite a bit. But how many carbs should you eat on race day? Many people can make the mistake of "carb-loading" too much before exercising and make themselves sick. Most sports nutritionists recommend aiming for three to four grams of carbs for every pound of your body weight. For best results, try to switch to this diet no more than two to three days before the event. Stick to real foods, and choose the healthiest alternatives whenever possible (raw and unprocessed foods). Your body also needs micronutrients and bioflavonoids to function efficiently.
2) Grab That Water Carefully
Water is vital during race day and grabbing a cup of water from a volunteer at the aid station can help you get your second, third, or fourth wind. These little cups of water are easy to spill, so if the volunteer balances the cup on their hand, snatch it from the top rim. That said, if you notice a volunteer holding the cup from the top, secure the base of the cup and pull it up towards you. This will prevent you from having to slow down and can prevent you from dropping it and feeling dehydrated.
3) Avoid Drinking Too Much Water
Most people know that not drinking enough water results in dehydration. But many don't know that drinking too much water leads to a condition called hyponatremia, which occurs when your sodium levels dip too low. A hyponatremic runner can experience symptoms ranging from nausea and fatigue to seizures. In order to avoid hyponatremia, you should try to take in about 24 fluid ounces of liquid and 0.3 grams of sodium per hour. If possible, sip on a sports drink throughout the race.
4) Use Caffeine Responsibly
Caffeine is a very effective ergogenic aid. It's shown to reduce fatigue and improve muscle endurance. As a result, there are many caffeine-infused bars, drinks, gels, and gums marketed towards endurance athletes. If you consume caffeine on the regular basis, make sure to use it as part of your fuel for race day. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and drowsiness will only slow you down. But if you don't train with caffeine, avoid it during the event, as it's not worth risking an upset stomach.
5) Tweak Your Fueling PLan According to Weather Conditions
It's important to adjust your fueling plan according to the weather. A late summer marathon in Florida will require a much different plan than an early spring marathon in Chicago, for example. During scorching hot and humid days, prepare to take in more fluids and electrolytes. Regardless of the temperature, we recommend continuing to consume the same amount of carbs.
Leading up to the event, work on developing a good fueling strategy. If you plan to wear a fuel belt during the race, practice using it while training. Looking to maximize your performance on race day? Many of our customers use our Race Day Fuel to help with energy, endurance, and muscle recovery.