The weeks before a big event are full of tension when you are working on improving speed and performance, as well as maintaining a balanced diet. In an effort to eat and drink right, runners often tend to go haywire and consume stuff that hugely impacts their running.
The problem is that there is a truckload of information out there via blogs and articles, with each of them telling you to follow a different technique. Some might ask you to eat more carbs, hydrate as much as possible, or have extra servings of broccoli and beans. How can you be sure you are not going wrong anywhere? Runners often veer towards extremes like skimping on fuel, overdoing food or drink, or eating foods that wreak havoc on the digestive system. Take a look at what you should be steering away from:
Consuming loads of carbs
Runners usually try to increase glycogen in their bodies by eating excess carbs on the night before the race. They think they will be able to burn them off on the following day. But if you flood your system with more carbs that it can handle, it might lead to digestive issues on the next day. You wouldn’t want to run to the bathroom after every mile! You need to keep the carb intake to a minimum, that too before some days and not on the eve of the race. Ideally, you need to eat oatmeal for breakfast, potatoes at lunch, and pasta for dinner. Don’t stuff yourself to an extent that it causes indigestion and your system goes into disarray. You might have problems while sleeping too.
When you drink way too much water before a race, it will make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. However, these are the minor effects – the major issue is that the electrolytes in your body will be diluted.
These minerals are responsible for proper muscle contraction, and if their concentration is tampered with, it can lead to muscle weakness or cramping and, in extreme cases, can lead to hyponatremia that is actually life-threatening and occurs due to the sodium content dropping sharply. Keep the fluid intake to a minimum in the days before the event. You can have water, sports drink, juice, even coffee and tea, but in moderate amounts.
On the D-Day, you should have about 16 ounces of water about 2 to 3 hours just before the race begins, so your body can draw energy from the extra fluid. If you still feel thirsty, drink another 1 to 2 cups just minutes before the race.
Fiber & fat overloading
Did you know that high fiber items such as whole-grain foods, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and fruits, can lead to gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea if consumed in quantities that your body can’t handle? If your diet includes these items, then it shouldn’t be a problem but you need to watch how much you eat. For those who are not used to such foods, don’t take the risk of loading up on high fiber foods. Fried foods like cheese, bacon, and hamburgers contain a lot of fat and should also be avoided before the race.
What foods can be safely consumed?
Every body is different so the dietary recommendations will also vary. However, the following items are quite safe before running, and help to fuel your body so you can get the energy required at the right time:
Opt for processed white foods such as regular pasta, white rice, and plain bagels. You might say they are not as high on the nutrition content like whole grain and unprocessed foods, but they will go easier on your system, as the whole grain is already broken down. Eat a plain bagel and put some peanut butter on top before you start.
Low fiber fruits and vegetables
Eating less fiber doesn’t mean you cut it out of your diet completely. Pineapples olives, grapes, grapefruit and cherries are a good choice. As for vegetables, you can try zucchini and tomatoes.
Safe dairy products
While dairy products are high on nutritional value, they might cause issues for some runners if consumed just before the gun goes off. The sugar lactose takes a while to digest, which can lead to several issues. However, you can try soy, rice, and almond milks as they don’t have the sugar lactose component. A few more options are acidophilus milk and yogurts with live cultures tat are beneficial during digestion.
Eating properly before participating in a big event is a balance of what and how much to eat. Don’t try any new diet just because everyone else is doing it – there shouldn’t be any experimentation during this time as it is a huge risk and might affect your performance negatively. Good luck with your running!