Hi Ian here again from Triathlon Swimmer and I felt that there’s not enough information out there relating to pre-event nutrition preparation. So here are a few tips to help you.
As you prepare for a big competition or event such as a triathlon of any length or perhaps an open water swimming event, you may want to taper your training so you are gradually doing less volume in training and are fresh for your big event.
If this is the case, you’ll need to think about changing your eating habits as well – if you continue eating the same amount, you might start putting on weight and increased body fat, which could impair your eventual performance.
It’s not something you should be checking rigorously after every meal or every workout but do keep an eye on what you’re eating and the number of calories taken on.
The Day Before:
- When your big event comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind already so the day before the event, keep exercise to a minimum (if anything at all) and eat meals and snacks high in complex/fibrous carbohydrates. It is vital to keep those glycogen stores topped up.
- Drink fluids such as water or perhaps a light diluted squash with a pinch of salt in (don’t worry you won’t taste it!!) little and often to stay properly hydrated.
- Minimise your consumption of beverages such as tea or coffee as they are diuretic and will dehydrate you.
- Eat small healthy snacks on a regular basis e.g. every two to four hours to maintain your blood sugar levels and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.
- Avoid big meals or over-eating late in the evening – this will make you feel overweight (although you are not) uncomfortable and lethargic for the next day.
- Try to stick to foods you are familiar with. If you eat curries and/or other spicy foods or possible baked beans/ pulses (unless you are used to eating them) they can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. Make sure that you stick to foods that you are compatible with!
The Morning of your Event:
- Your stomach may be nervous (which actually breaks down and burns free fatty acids!) But do not compete with it empty. Even a nervous tummy needs nourishment so make sure you have breakfast or a pre-event meal.
- Consume high energy and easily digested foods such as porridge, cereals with milk, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.
- If you’re really having problems digesting a solid breakfast, then try liquid feeding with meals such as a protein shake with a banana blended in, milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or perhaps a smoothie.
- It’s a good idea to practice your pre-event meal routine as part of your training so you know exactly what’s compatible with you.
Some more tips to make your event a great dayl
- Try to eat as soon as possible after your event to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to race again.
- If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavoured milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.
The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.
Here are some more you can try:
- Water, light diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt or a sports drink
- Pasta salad
- Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter
- Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears
- Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango
- Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey
- Mini-pancakes, fruit buns
- Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps
- Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks
- Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds
- Prepared vegetable crudités e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery