Mark Wolff - 28 July 2022

Carbo-loading may destroy your race (but we’re here to help!)

So, now we’re heading into race week and this is a big week. The nerves, you’re feeling it! But I’ve got some good pointers to try and help you through this week ,and make sure that you get to race day in the best possible shape. There’s a number of vital things that need to be taken into account.

Number one, sleep is so important. Sleep equals recovery, sleep equals better performance. Next we’re going to touch on nutrition. Nutrition is so vital. Keep the junk out, don’t consume it. You want to make sure that your digestive system is in good shape, that your body is in good shape, and everything needs to be repurposed and focused for race day.

Is Carbo-Loading a myth? 

A lot of people like to speak about carbohydrate loading. Sure, you can increase your carbohydrate intake slightly, but don’t overdo it. Remember, you’re consuming a certain amount of calories, you’re still trying to maintain an energy balance. If you’re going to increase your carbs slightly, something has got to give way. I would probably bring the fat down a little bit and maybe just bring the protein down a little bit.

Hydration is probably one of the most key focus areas of the week. You need to make sure that you get to race day properly hydrated. I always advocate around 30-40ml of fluid per kg of body weight. Which means that if you’re weight 60kg, you should be consuming around 2.4l of fluid a day, mainly in the form of water.

However, if you do exercise on top of that, you are going to need to increase your fluid consumption because you’re going to be losing a little bit more fluid in the form of sweat during exercise, so you need to take that into account also.

The art to mineral loading

Something that I advocate as you get closer to race day, which is around three to four days prior, is to start mineral loading. In other words, increasing your mineral intake, specifically sodium to help retain water and to set your hydration levels up properly for race day.

You can do this by consuming a hypotonic solution (32Gi Hydrate being a great option) which is basically an electrolyte solution. You can drop a tablet in a bottle, and you can drink a couple of bottles daily leading up to race day. It works phenomenally well.

How to eat the day before your race

then once you’ve woken up, set yourself up quite nicely by starting to consume your nutrition through the day.

Keep your nutrition low fibre, low fat, a nominal amount of protein. Focus on more carbohydrates - carbohydrates which are low in fibre as opposed to high fibre carbs - to make sure that you’re starting to set up your energy system, and you don’t want to cause any gastro-intestinal stress.

A lot of people eat massive pasta meals the night before the race. They go into this carbo-loading frenzy. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s going to impact your sleep. I think that if you really want to increase your carbohydrate intake, do it at lunch time, there you can increase your carbohydrate intake. When it gets to night-time, have a smaller meal, focus on eating a meal that is going to be conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Another thing is don’t over-hydrate in the evening because that will also impact your sleep, it will leave you running up and down to the toilet. Don’t take any vitamins the night before, the reason being is that they can impact the bladder, and don’t ingest any stimulants prior to sleep.

You don’t have to worry because the next morning we’re going to focus on the pre-race meal, and that to me is one of the most important meals prior to your race.

If you missed the previous episodes in our Ultra Marathon Fuelling Series...

Episode 1 ↠ A BIG mistake people make close to Comrades Marathon

Episode 2 ↠ How to know what (if any) fuel to take for your session

Episode 3 ↠ Carbs per hour required to fuel your Ultra Marathon

Episode 4 ↠ Don't forget to feed! Maximise performance by splitting calorie intake

Episode 5 ↠ Nail your next event with these hydration musts!

Episode 6 ↠ 4 Steps to Recover like a Pro

Episode 7 ↠ Wake up at the last minute (and fail your race)!

Episode 8 ↠ How to avoid catastrophic taper weight gain

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While not overdoing carbohydrate intake is key...

You do need to look at pre-loading options, and Endure has been a tried and tested Comrades Marathon favourite since 2009!

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