Athlete’s fuel, the DAY before a race
Fall is a popular season for fitness events and eating for performance is as crucial to training as logging on the miles, so today I am sharing what’s on Alex’s plate the day before the big race. Alex is one of my athlete clients who is frequently training for endurance events (and recently completed an ironman; I am extremely proud of her!). Here is the pre-race meal plan we put together for her.
While this meal plan reflects her taste preferences, it is based on functionality first and foremost since we know that our nutritional approach is the key that supercharges results.
Whether it is a marathon, triathlon, half-marathon or any other athletic event you are training for, you too may benefit from these tips. I encourage you to find your own innovative ways to integrate seasonal ingredients (real, whole-foods) that you enjoy.
*** Please note the serving size depends on the level, intensity and duration of YOUR training ***
- 2 pieces of sprouted grain toast, spread with raw almond butter for complex carbohydrates and sustained energy from fat.
- Smoothie – high in iron and vitamin C (1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder, 2 Tbsp goji berries, 2 Tbsp hemp seeds, 1 cup of spinach).
*** Why the focus on iron? Maintaining iron levels is important; when we sweat we lose electrolytes as well as minerals including iron. Iron can also be lost as tissue breaks down during high-impact, high-repetition sports, such as long-distance running.
Iron is found in almost every cell of our body, and is essential for maintaining red blood cells that transport oxygen for all of us to function optimally and is particularly crucial for athletes. It helps the formation of hemoglobin — the oxygen carrying component of red blood cells. Iron is a major component for efficient energy metabolism, circulation, and proper energy use from digestion — all key factors for peak athletic performance. Increasing your intake of plant-based sources of iron is crucial to maintain peak performance during training. For female athletes this is even more important, as women are generally more prone to iron deficiencies. To increase absorption of iron, we added foods high in vitamin C to the meal.
Hydration. Throughout the day, Alex drinks at least 3 liters of water, plus adds electrolytes, kombucha, herbal tea and fresh pressed juices for variety. Her favorites are GREEN juice made from cucumber, spirulina, apple and ginger or RED juice from beet, apple, carrot and ginger.
The day before the race, lunch (not dinner!) is the crucial time for carbo-loading. Unlike dinner, having the bigger meal for lunch leaves you ample time to digest the carbs. This meal is also a good opportunity to practice eating mindfully and chewing thoroughly. Do your best to AVOID temptations for distracting yourself, like reading, responding to emails or checking your smartphone as you eat. You need to “set the scene” for your body’s optimal digestion. When you digest easily, you’ll have more focus to tackle the busy inbox later, and ample energy for race day!!
- Plate loaded with colorful, raw vegetables; clean protein (ideally plant-based such as tempeh or legumes: lentils, chickpeas or beans); starchy carbohydrate — this could be baked sweet potato, raw grated beets, or regular white potatoes; hummus for more complex carbohydrates topped with pumpkin seeds for a healthy source of fat.
- Apple with 2 Tbsp almond butter or tahini. If you are the savory type have hummus with carrots.
- Alex’s dinner: wild rice with roasted kabocha squash and steamed broccoli.
AN HOUR AFTER DINNER
The last part of the pre-race prep for Alex includes a long bath soak in Epsom salt while sipping on kombucha. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium which is great for muscle and tissue health as is quickly absorbed through the skin. That can be helpful for reducing lingering inflammation in the body.
Get a good night’s rest so you wake up rested and refreshed on race day!
p.s. Take what resonates and leave the rest. And if you find this port helpful, share it with friends. They’ll thank you for it!
p.p.s. As you notice, this sample meal plan contains no animal products; that is because animal products take a lot longer to digest than plants. Alex is not a vegetarian, however she chooses to consume mostly plants during her training season for peak performance.