Race Day Nutrition Tips - St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon


by Simon Kraak September 28, 2016

With race day approaching it’s time to plan and practice your race day fueling. In order for everything to roll smoothly on course, now is the time to implement a race day nutrition plan. To give you confidence in putting this together, we have some handy tips to help get the most out of your run.  

Feed early & consistently
Our bodies have adequate reserves for the first hour or so of exercise, however the quicker you begin to refuel the less likely fatigue will hit like a freight train, so start within the first 20 minutes of the event.  Evenly spread your energy needs over each hour to ensure a consistent supply of fuel. Don’t rely on natural hunger and thirst cues!  A good tip is to set repeating 15-20 minute alarms on your watch to avoid race distractions and help cement this habit.  

Carbohydrates will be your best friend  
There is so much misinformation around on carbohydrates and we need to put all this to one side when we are planning for your run. Carbs are essential for fueling your muscles (and brain which has a big part to play in getting you across the line) so if you're planning on running over 1 hour (that's most of you!) then these need to be factored in.

How many carbohydrates to consume during a race differs for every person, but an easy rule of thumb is 0.8g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, per hour of exercise (simply multiply your weight by 0.8).

For example, a 70kg person would generally require 56g of carbohydrates per hour of exercise (70kg x 0.8).

Once you have calculated your hourly carbohydrate requirements, then consider where you will source your carbohydrates from. This will be your sports drink and any food or gels/ chomp like carbohydrate sources.

To find out how many grams of carbohydrates are in each of your intended race day foods, look for the ‘Carbohydrates Total’ line on the nutritional panel and check the serving size.  

Plan your aid stations
PeakFuel Performance Hydration Drink will be on course at each aid station during the St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon, and each 200ml cup will contain 11g of carbohydrates, so if our example 70kg person past two aid stations per hour we would encourage them to drink a minimum of 500ml (2.5 cups) to meet hydration requirements:

  • 500ml PeakFuel Performance Hydration Drink per hour = 27.5g carbohydrates consumed 
  • Total hourly requirement for a 70kg runner = 56g carbohydrates required 
  • 56g required – 27.5g consumed at aid stations = 28.5g remaining. 

So the remaining 28.5g carbohydrates per hour needs to come from another carbohydrate source.  This could be from a PeakFuel Bar or PeakFuel Gel, lollies, a banana, dates or similar. 

Avoid foods that have more than 10g fats / 100g as these can be hard for your stomach to digest while exercising.  Competitors who plan to be on course over 3 hours will benefit from including protein in their food choices.  

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Hydration can be easily overlooked but has a strong link to fatigue. Research the course to find out the location of aid stations and work out the time it will take you to get between stations. If this is upwards of about 30 minutes then we suggest carrying hydration on you for these parts of the run.
Fluid requirements vary a lot (temperature, size, gender, fitness level etc) but a general rule of thumb is 500ml – 750ml an hour.

Regardless of weather, aim for a minimum of 500ml per hour. Note: for those competitors who will be out on course for more than 3 hours, it is particularly important to ensure you use hydration containing carbohydrates for energy but also electrolytes. You will be losing vital electrolytes in sweat and if these aren’t replaced (or you're drinking a truckload of plain water) you may be at risk of a very dangerous condition called Hyponatremia. Symptoms include confusion, nausea, headaches and even loss of consciousness, so be sure to replace electrolytes.

PeakFuel Performance Hydration Drink contains both carbohydrates and all essential electrolytes (magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium).  If you are prone to excessive sweating, or race day looks like it will be particularly hot weather, consider topping up additional electrolytes.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your fuel
Real food is good race day food too!  While food takes longer to digest, if you train yourself to eat small morsels regularly this can be a really effective way to remain energised.  

TOP SPORTS NUTRITION TIPS:
Take extra
Always anticipate longer race times, and take take extra fuel accordingly. We have met countless numbers of athletes who have rocketed through races only to hit that dreaded wall and have nothing left to eat or drink to get through it. Even a few sweat covered jet plane lollies can save the day.  

Breakfast is the first step to a successful day out
After a long nights fasting it is essential to fuel up for the day ahead no matter what distance you are planning to run. If you tend to suffer from stomach issues plan to eat 2-3 hours before start time to give your body time to digest breakfast. Choose something that ideally contains carbohydrates but more importantly sits well with you. Practice different options and lengths of time before training long runs to make sure you have this nailed. Some runner most common breakfast choices would be porridge, bircher muesli or Nutella, peanut butter and banana on fruit toast (race day treat?).  

Practice in training

All of the sports nutrition theory in the world will not get you through your race if you physically can’t tolerate eating & drinking while running (believe me we have learned this the hard way!). Use your long training runs as a dress rehearsal for your race day nutrition plan. This means using the exact same brand of any gels/chomps/electrolytes you plan to use on the day. As a result your body will know exactly what to expect and if something doesn’t work for you now there is time to change it. Remember to be patient, you do have to train your body to accept fuel while running so the earlier you start practicing your race day nutrition plan, the better.  

Recover
The golden rule is to get carbohydrates and protein on-board within 30 minutes of finishing your run. Even if this is your last run for the foreseeable future your body will thank you for this in the days to come. Come to the PeakFuel recovery zone in the finish village to grab a yummy PeakFuel Chocolate Recovery shake. It is formulated to replenish carbohydrates, proteins, electrolytes and to restore hydration ... plus it also tastes damn good too!   Finally don’t forget to congratulate yourself on your fantastic efforts, we often forget to take the time to do this, just remember you are so awesome for getting out there - so go, you!!


Simon Kraak
Simon Kraak

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