It’s here – the final week before your Ironman race. You’ve followed the program, trained hard, and have done everything right to get you to the start line. But it’s not over just yet. While the final week before the race is about tapering and backing off the training, it’s vital to stay on top of your nutrition, to stay organised and to fuel well before the race. Fuelling right is key to performance on race day. Don’t compromise your race; don’t waste all your hard work, by not fuelling correctly in the last days leading in to the race!

In the final week before the race you need to make sure you are loading up on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are fuel for your muscles and will ensure performance on race day.

Your aim should be to continue eating a high carbohydrate diet, as you would have been doing while training. Maintaining this training diet, while decreasing the training load will ensure your glycogen stores are maximised.

But remember, ‘carbo-loading’ is not ‘garbo-loading’. Aim to meet your carbohydrate requirements using healthier sources of carbohydrates, opting for low fibre options, as the race day gets closer.

The recommended amount of carbohydrates in the lead up to an endurance event like an Ironman is about 7-10g carbohydrate/kg body weight, increasing this to about 10-12g carbohydrate/kg body weight 36-48hours before the race.

So, for a 60kg athlete, 7-10g carbohydrate/kg body weight equates to about 420-600g carbohydrates per day, spread across 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. Practically, 420-600g carbohydrates.

  • 1 cup rolled oats with 1-cup milk topped with 1 medium banana (chopped).
  • 2 slices of toast with 3 tablespoons of honey.
  • 250-300ml Fruit Smoothie
  • 2 rice cakes with 3 tablespoons jam/honey/nut spread/ricotta.
  • 1-2 sandwiches with filling as desired (e.g. salad veg, 1-2 slices cheese, 70g meat/chicken/fish)
  • 1 tub (170g) yoghurt
  • 1glass fruit juice.
  • 1 piece fruit
  • 1 muesli bar
  • Stir-fry with 1-cup rice, vegetables, and chicken/meat/fish.
  • 1 glass fruit juice.
  • 1 glass of milk/1 tub rice pudding. (Provides ~524g carbohydrates)

If you find that your appetite is reduced during taper week, and you’re finding it tricky to eat three meals with 2-3 snacks, you could use smoothies or liquid meal supplements, such as Sustagen ® Sport to meet your carbohydrate requirements.

Why it’s recommended to reduce fibre intake as race day gets closer:

While for normal healthy eating a low fibre diet is not generally recommended, as the health benefits of fibre are well known, before an endurance event, keeping fibre to a minimum will reduce the likelihood of gut issues on race day. Also, fibre increases satiety, which might make it harder for you to meet your carbohydrate requirements if you’re filling up too quickly.

Pre-race Hydration:

The negative effects of dehydration on sporting performance are well known, so in the final week before the race you need to make sure you are hydrating well, using a mix of water and electrolytes. Your aim should be to alternate between water and electrolytes (e.g. Shotz tabs), daily, using urine colour as an indicator of hydration status. You should expect to pass urine about every 2 hours. For more on hydration, electrolytes and salt see my latest post ‘Salt and the Endurance Athlete’. It may also be beneficial for you to add salt, such as Himalayan Pink sea salt to your meals in the week leading up to the event, to help retain the fluid you are drinking and to ensure electrolyte replacement.

Summary:

Over the next week remember to fuel and hydrate well, to get to that start line in the best shape possible, and to maximise your performance.

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