Since it’s Ironman Western Australia this week I thought this an opportune time to bring this up.
If you have been following me for a while, you will have seen me mention it before.
You have trained long and hard to get to this point, yet I see so many athletes continually make this mistake
and it’s not your fault.
because this incorrect advice has been literally shoved down your throat. Hell, even the race organisers make it tough by further perpetrating this myth.
So what is the #1 Worst Thing Ever that you can do in race week?
Yes shoving copious amounts of (usually refined carbs like pasta, bread, sports drinks etc) carbs down your throat is not going to do you any favours come race day. No you’re not got to somehow magically super stock your muscle glycogen stores.
Muscle glycogen stores don’t have an infinite storage ability like FAT stores so when those muscles are stocked full, all that food has to be converted to something else because it sure aint getting used up in taper week and it sure isn’t expanding your muscle glycogen stores any further.
Here is why:
You have approximately a max muscle glycogen storage capacity of about 90 minutes of fairly intense exercise. To develop this max storage capacity happens over time via being extremely diligent with your post training session refuelling within an all important 30min window.
It’s just physiologically impossible to increase your storage ability in race week.
Think about it this way as well. You have been training hard and doing long sessions and your daily fuel needs have been quite high. So you get used to eating at a certain level. Now taper comes along and you’re are led to believe (by the powers that be .) that you need to ‘carbo-load’ for energy.
Hmm taper means greatly reduced training load. Then you try to increase an already high calorie load hmmm and now that the training load has significantly reduced and your caloric needs aren’t so high but you shove in more Where do these excess calories go?
They will either be passed through your bowels or stored in your adipose (Fat) cells these will not do you any benefits.
Even if you didn’t reduce yes that is REDUCE your typically weekly feeding to be in line with current training needs, would mean that you’re in fact ‘carbo-loading’ or should I say eating more than is needed.
Don’t make this mistake. Just eat normally and try to stay away from copious amounts of refined foods that you just don’t need.
Another two mistakes that need mentioning that athletes make on race morning is eating way to many calories in the pre race meal. All that is needed is to ‘top off’ liver glycogen stores which loose a little in your sleep. You don’t lose any muscle glycogen stores in your overnight ‘fast’.
So you don’t need a mega breakfast for ‘energy’ as you’ll have plenty on-board. All you need is 200-400 calories to top off liver glycogen stores and take the stomach hunger pangs away. All you need is a little complex carbohydrates and maybe a touch of soy or rice protein.
This should be consumed 3 or more hours before your start. Any closer than that and you’ll feel lethargic on the race start line and you’ll burn through your stored muscle glycogen much quicker which won’t help performance.
So if you’re racing this weekend in Busselton I wish you the best and really hope you see the dividends of your dedication. Just keep in mind the simple and effective advice above same goes if you’re racing Canberra 70.3 the following weekend (I’ll be there with the family.. can’t wait).
If you want to learn more I highly recommend becoming a TSU student. It’s peanuts @ $20/mth or 65 cents per day. Add TSU Plus and get access to a host of monthly training plans too. That would bring your investment into yourself to a whopping $1.65 per day.
Seriously you cannot afford not to. This knowledge will make you a better, healthier triathlete. I *guarantee it.
*By guarantee I mean, you actually have to IMPLEMENT the advice.
I want to see you succeed.