I'm sure many of you are getting ready for the Austin marathonon Feb. 15. I am too!
This week, be sure that you hydrate well every day. In the first few days of the week, make sure you have a balanced diet including at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables , 6 ounces or more of lean protein, and 6 or more servings of starchy carbohydrates (at least 3 of which should be whole grains) daily. Don't forget to include a small amount of healthy fat as well, such as nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, etc.
Thursday, start increasing your portions of carbohydrates (as in, start carbo loading!). You don't necessarily need to increase your total calories, but decrease your portions of fats and low-carbohydrate/high fiber vegetables.
Friday, if at all possible get to the Expo and get all of your things packed for race day. I always try to have my race day clothes laid out w/the number pinned on ahead of time. I also like to have a comfy change of clothes and flip flops in my drop bag. In addition, I pack my race "snacks" in my race belt and shorts' pockets (sports beans, gold fish or pretzels, dried apricots, etc.). I also carry chap stick, tissues, band aids, tylenol, and a couple of individually packed sanitizing wipes. You may also want to have a garbage bag with neck and arm holes cut out ready to wear (makes a good wind breaker or rain coat, if the weather looks like it is going to be windy or rainy).
Saturday, keep it simple. Do not eat anything new! Eat foods you like and know you tolerate well. Make sure to drink something healthy at all your meals (not just water). If you normally have juice or sports drink, feel free to have some of that with your meals. Avoid gas-causing foods (such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) and very high fiber foods (such as bran cereals) if you have digestive problems. Also avoid sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol and mannitol (in gums, candies, etc.) as they may cause diarrhea. Also limit or avoid alcohol.
Race morning, try to eat something 1 to 3 hours before start time and aim for about 50 grams of carbohydrate for each hour before the start. If you do not tolerate solid foods well before races, liquid meals such as breakfast shakes, sports drinks, etc. are a good choice. Some athletes feel satisfied longer if their pre-race meal also contains some fat. I personally like to have a small bowl of cereal w/1% milk about 3 hours before the start, then a boiled egg or half a cliff bar about 90 minutes before the start, followed by a few sports beans or accelerade about 30 minutes before the start while I'm standing in the chute. I like to carry a small disposible water bottle that will have either plain water (if I plan to eat sports beans) or accelerade that I'll toss after the first couple of miles or so.
During the race, do not forget to use your supplements every 45 minutes to 1 hour (gels, gus, sports beans, etc.). You also need to drink 4 to 8 ounces of sports drink or water every 15 to 20 minutes.