You have two more weeks until the big day!
Now let’s talk nutrition, specifically what to eat before, during and after your race and upcoming runs. As a nutritionist, I once again cannot stress how important food is to your success. Food is not only medicine but food is the fuel that will power your internal gas tank to get you across that finish line! Remember that your everyday diet should be nutrient rich and contain as many plants as possible, but is that always a good idea the day before or of a race?
I am always asked about carb loading. Is it good, is it bad? “Should I eat bagels and a few cups of penne the night before”? Well, the answer is yes and no. You do not want to overdo the carbohydrates the night before as it can cause gastrointestinal upset and disrupted sleep if you overdo it, think all you can eat pre-race pasta bar. What may be more beneficial is to add an extra serving or two of carbohydrates a day for several days before the marathon. This will allow the body to top off glycogen stores or the equivalent of topping off your fuel tank, ensuring that you start the race with optimal energy. What is a serving of carbohydrate though? How much should I eat? A few examples of 1 serving a carbohydrate is 1/3-1/2 c quinoa, 1/2 c sweet potato, 1/3-1/2c brown rice or 1 c of butternut squash. Eating an extra serving or two a day in the days leading to your race should be sufficient.
What about the morning of the Steamboat Marathon, what should you eat? Well, everyone is different and the key is to always practice everything before race day. You still have time to try out your race morning strategy before some training runs. You want to have enough energy but make sure you eat the right foods to keep your stomach happy. The morning of a big race or training day the key is to not have anything with too much fiber (opposite from what you should eat on a daily basis) as to avoid extra pit stops along the race course. Most people also do best to keep too much fat and protein at bay on race morning, as they can be harder to digest. Skip the bacon, eggs and sausage and instead focus on foods that are easy to digest, but will provide you with enough energy to power through the miles. This could be a cup of oatmeal with berries, 2 pieces of regular or gluten free toast with peanut butter and honey or even an egg sandwich with avocado, egg, and bread. Everyone is different so get your plan in gear now. Aim for 350-500 calories the morning of race day.
During the race you want to again focus on the energy foods that you have tried in your training. Nothing new on race day! The Steamboat Marathon will have our local wonder company Honey Stinger on course so I would try their products out beforehand and formulate a plan. Whether its gels, chews, sports drinks, aid station fruit and goodies or homemade energy foods you must rehearse what you will do and find what your body likes best. I am happy to share several Colorado homegrown grown products that I really enjoy including Honey Stinger from Steamboat, Tailwind from Durango, Scratch from Boulder, and V Fuel gels and sports drink from Estes Park. It’s nice to support our local Colorado companies but there are so many quality products out there now that you have your pick, including GU energy and Carbopro, two companies I’ve also used many times with great success. Again during a race its individual but a good goal is to aim for 30-50 grams of carbohydrates every 45 minutes to an hour. To give you a real time example, one bag of energy chews is typically 30-40g and a gel is ~25g depending on brand.
As for post-race, this is time to celebrate but do not forget that your recovery fuel is all part of being an athlete. Congrats on all of your hard work, your dedication is to be commended. I know you’re happy you have finished and just want to grab a cold one but wait! Grab a carb-protein combo snack within 30 minutes of finishing such as dates and almonds or your favorite bar. Then consume a real meal within 2 hours. Your post-race lunch or breakfast should be a nice mixture of carbs to replenish your stores, protein to heal and healthy fats to reduce inflammation. A few good options are as follows: my favorite post exercise fuel is a “big bowl”. The big bowl can be brown rice, lots of avocado, 2 cups of veggies of your choice, pumpkin seeds or hemp hearts and your choice of tofu, beans or chicken. You could also grab a sandwich with turkey, avocado, lettuce, tomato and an apple, or a breakfast scramble with eggs, veggies, avocado, cheese and toast served with fruit.
From all of us Steamboat residents, I hope you have a wonderful time in Steamboat taking in all of the beauty and enjoying your hard work, the race is the gift, the training is the sacrifice!
Cara A Marrs, RD, CLT, CPT
Nutrition Prescription, Inc
702 Oak Street
Steamboat Springs Colorado 80487