April 15, 2014
Sadly, I don’t have a WIAW for you all today. Mostly because this has been a crazy weekend for me! I bought a new car on Friday (which is an endurance event of it’s own, let me tell you) and ran the Oshkosh Half Marathon on Sunday. Mom came Saturday-Monday to visit and cheer me on at the half marathon. All this combined meant I was a bit distracted and not doing a good job of documenting what I ate.
HOWEVER, I should mention this is also partly intentional. I do not tend to count or worry about calories in the 3-5 days prior to a race. You DO NOT want to be restricting calories or underfed at the start line because
as noted here by Marni Sumbal, RD, vegetarian and multiple-time Kona qualifier. (Her blog is amazing by the way – I read nearly every post!). If you don’t have enough calories in you, you will not perform to your fullest potential. Period. You’d rather have a little extra hanging around than not enough, and a few days of extra calories isn’t going to destroy your weight loss or make you gain pounds and pounds anyway.
I do not have a specific “plan” or formula about how much of each macronutrient to eat the week prior to race day, but those things do exist (click here for an example from runner’s world) for the more obsessive. I follow these general guidelines that seem to work well for me personally:
– I focus much more on WHAT I am eating then how much I am eating. I focus on complex carbohydrates, primarily whole-wheat bread and pasta as well as brown rice, oatmeal and potatoes. I eat a lot of beans and tofu, which are a good source of protein and typically iron as well.
– I do not eat ANYTHING I haven’t already been eating – no new foods, spices, preparations. Nothing that could cause my GI tract to rebel.
– I try to eat similar ratios of what I typically eat. For example, I do eat dairy and eggs occasionally, but only in small amounts and usually as ingredients in foods, so a few days prior to a race is not the time for me to eat a five-egg omelet like Michael Phelps.
– I become even more obsessive about how old my food is than I usually am. No one wants to miss a race sitting in the portajohn due to food poisoning because you wanted to make sure a little bit of food didn’t go to waste. Not worth it!
The day of the race I try to get a good mix of complex and simple carbs, usually my typical oatmeal with nuts and brown sugar, or whole wheat bread with peanut butter and honey, and a banana in me about 2-3 hours before the race. I also sip carb drink like Hammer Heed until the start of the race.
After the Race
You should have protein and healthy food afterwards to help rebuild your muscles and recover. It’s a very, very important time to eat healthy while your body heals.
….OR you could be like me, and eat WHATEVER YOU WANT! Now, of course, this is typically pretty good for me anyway, but there’s always some sort of cake, fried something, and of course beer, involved. And for the record- Chrissy Wellington (quite possibly one of the best Ironman Athletes ever) indulges in these types of foods (read about it here) after a race too:
My record-breaking two large burgers, two plates of chips, one plate of onion rings and 15 donuts after Ironman Arizona 2010 could have been deemed to be slightly excessive though.
I also eat as much as I want, and have gained quite the reputation among my friends for the amount of food I can shove down my gullet post-race. I am not embarrassed by this.
I think this time period is important for mental rejuvenation as well. It’s hard to always be “perfect” with eating, it’s hard to resist high-fat, high-sugar “bad” food all the time. It’s hard to be conscious of your food every single moment. Just like our bodies need time to rest and recover, our brains and willpower need it too. And I think the perfect time to do that is during a post-race celebration!! After about 2-3 days of very relaxed eating, I get back on track with my usual diet. Which I will start tomorrow….I swear….