In my last blog I covered the basics regarding carbohydrates. Welcome back to Part 2. This month, the month of “Love” February, I will share some basic pre-event fueling guides. I know, your first question is probably about when this fueling starts. This pre-event fueling window starts four hours before an event and slowly closes up to 30 to 60 minutes before the start of the race. The largest amount of carbs can be consumed three to four hours before, with smaller amounts consumed (as tolerated) up to the start. The exact timing and amount of carbohydrate consumed should meet the individual preferences and tolerances of the athlete. For example, if eating three hours prior to exercising, the 80 kilogram (176 pound) athlete will consume 240 grams of carbohydrate, and the 55 kilogram (121 pound) athlete should strive for 165 grams of carbohydrate.
Pre-event meals should consist primarily of food that can be easily digested such as carbohydrates and fluids. Protein should be consumed only in small amounts, and fat intake should be very low to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal upset. Keep in mind that carbohydrates high in fiber and gas forming foods such as legumes, onions, cabbage, and bran products, are not recommended on the day before a big event as they may cause intestinal discomfort.
On race day 2 hours prior: Carbs in easily digested form (liquids/gels) 2g/kg (so 2g times your body weight in kg). During the race 60 to 70 g/hr The lower value assumes you are in zone 2 heart rate, as you are doing Spartan races take the higher value of 70. You will have to experiment so that you can avoid GI distress, with both the types of products and the amounts. For sodium 4 hours prior to your race 450 to 1120 mg per liter, and during the race 500 to 700 mg per liter (a liter is about 32 ounces). You can also use salt tablets if you sweat a lot. There is a method to better calculate this, called the sweat rate test.
For example, if eating three hours prior to exercising, the 80 kilogram (176 pound) athlete will consume 240 grams of carbohydrate, and the 55 kilogram (121 pound) athlete should strive for 165 grams of carbohydrate.
What you should avoid, protein during races, and the morning of races. You can protein up after for recovery. Protein is just tough for the body to digest, and will lead to GI distress. After your race, digest 15 to 25 g of good quality protein. Oh, and if you want to carbo load to race prep, it is done 36 to 72 hours prior. I normally start 72 hours prior to get the glycogen reserves up, you know you do burn them when you sleep. In that time frame you should be having 8 to 12 g/kg (so 8 to 12 times your body weight in kg) per 24 hours.
If I didn’t say this, I will say it again, and over and over. One of the best ways to improve your race day experience is to make certain that whatever fuel you choose to use and even for your carbo loading, you should have tried it several times during your weeks of training. Ask your coach about fueling. Many coaches have lots of race experience, and can share with you what may have worked for them, and what absolutely didn’t work. That information is a great place to start. Next month I will share some basics information regarding GI distress, and other matters of the tummy.
Ironman Certified Coach