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Pre-Race Nutrition, Carb Flush & Load, Working it all out!

I am 6 days to race day- my 2nd Half Marathon of the year and I have been training steadily. Ambitious for a modest PB I am trying to be systematic and have all of my elements in place- a formula for success. What does this encompass?

  1. Sport Specific Training: I have been running consistently since September- 9 months. My distances slowly increased. Although there are weeks when I am only running 1-2x/week (work gets in the way) the extra months of training offset it. I have trained pace with tempo/hills, steady runs and LSD's. I have logged about 500K in the past 9 months and I feel ready for another 21.1.
  2. Cross Training: I have been disciplined with dedicated strength & plyometric workouts during my run training. With focus on core and hips, I am working steadily to build stronger muscles where it will help my running the most. The plyo also has increased my speed and performance at the onset of any run. I have also been stretching diligently to offset aches, pains, tightness and subsequent imbalances. 
  3. Run Form: I have been refining my form with the lean, pelvic alignment, thorax rotation, breath control and all of those elements working together in the dynamic movement of running.
  4. Nutrition: I struggle with sticking to food plans and am inclined to under consume daily caloric requirements. I have increased my focus and consistency with protein, adding more legumes, eggs, dairy & fish to my pseudo-vegetarian food plan. I am becoming more disciplined in avoiding foods with high glycemic indexes as well as empty calories. I have been eating more consistently and monitoring/controlling my typical 5lb weight fluctuations.
Today is the last official run club clinic before our race. We will be tapering with a 4K steady run. This morning I had a sick client which meant I could squeeze in a workout. Short on time and with a run planned, I busted out a HIIT 12:00 workout which looked like this.

Max Intensity Max Reps:
Core Trio 30:10 x 6 = 4:00 x 2 sets
Dueling Set Compound Lower 20:10 x 8 = 4:00
Squat Side Leg Lifts vs. Reverse Row High Kick L/R
I busted out 570 reps in 12:00. Not bad. I was jello when I was done and I love that.

After my very difficult run last week, I have been thinking a lot about nutrition and how it could potentially hold me back on race day. This is frustrating! Typically it is strength or endurance that limits performance- to feel so strong then suffer hypoglycemic symptoms was deflating. I am on a mission to be race ready in 6 days!

Last week a nutritionist came to speak to my clinic- Winsome Dewar of Healthy Options in Mississauga. Winsome is a holistic nutritionist who speaks about "food from nature" which resonates with me. What I found very insightful about her presentation was the idea that combinations of foods (carbs:fat:proteins) can affect the release of glycogen which stabilize blood sugar. Protein slows the release of glycogen from carbohydrates. On race day this is important. I want my pre-race meal to release slowly, fueling my run steadily. To achieve this Winsome recommends I increase my portion of yoghurt (protein) with my oatmeal as well as increase the overall portion size. She also recommends a smoothie (protein/carb- yoghurt/fruit/flax) 30 minutes before the race and I will take her advice.

The other really interesting thing that I learned from Winsome is that the body stores only 1800 calories of glycogen in the muscles and the "fresher" the store of glycogen the more bioavailable it is for metabolising. So what does that mean? Pre-race week I am "flushing" my glycogen stores by reducing the carbs I am eating as I taper in run distance, while increasing my protein and fat (slightly). I will carbo load on Thursday/Friday and Saturday I am planning a bean salad pre-race dinner.

Here is my menu for the week so far:
  • Coffee (I skipped breakfast- bad... trained all morning)
  • Fresh Homemade Onion Soup (mid morning)
  • Cheese & crackers
  • 1/2 piece of homemade bread with egg salad
  • 1/2 piece of homemade bread with butter
  • 1/2 can tuna with homemade mayo, pickled veggies
  • Dinner: chicken, quinoa/lentil/rice blend, bean sprouts, raw veggies with mayo, tomato/cucumber/zucchini salad, cottage cheese, fried zucchini & mushroom. This was a huge serving- see photo below.
  • Lots of water of course!
Monday was a bit low in calories I think, but I am on a taper.

Tuesday (so far)
- Coffee
- Avocado on 1/2 piece of homemade bread with tomato & cream cheese, tomato/cucumber/zucchini salad
- 2 cups Banana yoghurt smoothie 
- 2 scrambled eggs with cheese & tomato slices
- Lots of water of course

I keep eyeballing the fresh loaf of homemade bread on my counter, but I keep telling myself it is only a few days :)

I was starving a couple of hours post workout and this is what I ate before run club- again higher in protein and low on carbs. That is a quinoa/lentil/rice mixture and this plate is 1/2 the size of the plate above.

After run club I was starving again and picked at some pimento chicken chunks that the kids had for dinner. I probably ate an entire chicken breast over the course of the day. Hanging with a couple of friends I busted out another hour in the gym just messing around and adding up the reps. It was a crazy day with 2 solid workouts + a 4K run- 5:19 average pace and clocking 4:30's- fast.

I'll keep logging my food plan as well as I can this week. I know there are many of you approaching races this weekend and next so take some insight and have a strict pre-race nutrition week- leave comments below!


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