My friends from Nutreats are back for the second part to the build up to the Comrades with the focus now on what you should eat in the week leading up to Comrades. Follow them on twitter for brilliant nutritional hints, guidance and advice.
Eating in the week leading up to Comrades
In the second part of our Comrades Nutrition Series we focus on the final week. With only seven days to go, your tapering is in full swing and with just one or two training runs left the work has largely been done. This week, it is what you don’t do that will benefit you.
To Carbo-Load or Carbo-Unload?!
The week before most races, begins the customary carbohydrate loading phase. During this phase, one increases carbohydrate intake in order to ensure that one’s muscles are fully stocked with the maximum 2000 calorie glycogen stores, which will be used during the race. To be able to achieve fully stocked glycogen stores, one needs to ensure that they consume between 7-10 grams of Carbohydrates per Kilogram of body weight daily 2-3 days before the race. Whether the pros of active carbo-loading outweigh the cons is debatable, especially for women.
Lindsay Parry, The Comrades Coach, advises against this type of active carbohydrate loading. His reasoning is two-fold. Firstly, in a race of this magnitude that goes on for well over two hours you will need to take fuel – in a carbohydrate form – at points along the route no matter how well you carbohydrate load. Secondly, during the final taper week you should be eating the same as normal. As physical activity takes a big dip, you will be consuming more than you are burning allowing for natural carbohydrate loading to occur.
The last factor to take into account is the stress that excessive carbohydrate puts on your body. For every gram of carbohydrate stored, your body will store an additional three grams of water leading to a weight gain of up to two kilograms. Whilst, this is a sign of proper carbo-loading, you need to decide whether that extra weight will help or hinder your race.
What to Eat
As mentioned in Part 1, now is not the time to try out new diets. If you are a carbo-loader and it works for you, by all means stick to that plan. If Low Carbs, High Fat gives you the edge, then continue on with it. Whichever diet or eating plan you keep, what is important is that you are getting nutrients from natural and fresh sources: Lean Proteins, Whole grains and lots of Fruit and Vegetable. Keeping a balanced diet and getting in a full range of nutrients will help your body recover and prime it for Sunday. During the final week, keeping hydrated is also important, so don’t let your liquid intake fall by the wayside.
Avoid sugars and processed foods, which give you empty calories and minimal to no nutrients. As most of you will be travelling to Durban, eating out will become a main dining option. Avoid exotic cuisine, foods you know don’t sit well with you, or any foods you are not familiar with.
Three days before Comrades, cut out alcohol, energy bars, fast foods, and dairy and stick to foods you normally eat.
The day before, eat cautiously as what you eat can leave lasting and unpleasant effects on the run the following day. Now is the time to cut out diuretics such as coffee and tea and to increase your water intake. You’ve run plenty races in preparation, at this stage you will know what your body agrees and disagrees with. Listen to it.
During the final three days before Comrades adopt a grazing eating pattern as opposed to sitting down to large meals which can leave you feeling bloated and overly stuffed.
The day before, your last “big meal” should be lunch, comprising mostly of carbohydrates. Dinner should be a light meal eaten early. Avoid heavy meats, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, sugar and fibre laden foods; all of which can negatively impact your digestive system and hamper performance. Do not overeat: (We promise there will still be food when you finish J)
For those who want to increase or supplement carbohydrate intake without the bloated and stuffed feeling pastas and bread leave you with, liquid carbohydrates are a great option as they give you carbohydrates along with fulfilling your liquid hydration needs. A Good option is 32Gi Endurance Energy Drinks which are Low Gi and free of unnecessary ingredients. Alternatively; mixing either apple Juice or Grape Juice with water in a 3:1 ratio provides you with easy to consume carbohydrates.
While focusing on what to eat; don’t neglect the final ingredient to getting yourself Comrades ready – rest – sleep the week before is vital. Aim for a solid eight hours a night in the week before, bearing in mind that the night before you will not be getting much sleep.
Keep Calm and Taper On…The time is nearly here J
Sources: Jozi Multi Sport: Comrades 2012: A Reality Check; Nutreats: Carbohydrate Loading and Women, Comrades Lessons for the Novice; NutriSport: Comrades Ultra Marathon: Practical Nutrition Advice for Preparation and Race Day; Red Man Racing: Comrades Marathon Nutritional Advice