Important: Do not trial a new nutrition strategy in the days before, or on, race day. Instead, use your long run in the weeks ahead to test nutrition strategies and find what works best for you.
You may be wondering whether it is necessary to ‘carb-load’ prior to the race. This is the practice of enhancing your energy stores by taking in additional carbohydrates in the 36 – 48 hours before the event. Carb-loading has proven most beneficial in longer-duration races such as the marathon, but can provide benefits in events lasting longer than 90 minutes.
If you decide to carb-load, do so in the two days before an event – you don’t have to increase your calories, just make sure that the majority of these come from carbs. The day before the race, try to have your main meal at midday and a smaller meal for dinner, so that you have plenty of time to digest.
On the morning of the race, it is recommended to eat a familiar, low-fibre meal that is easy to digest. Take on 1 – 4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, between four and one hours before the race.
During the race, keep hydrated. You can also replenish energy stores with 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrates from drinks, gels, or confectionery. However, carbohydrate intake while exercising can increase the risk of nausea and discomfort. Practice any in-run carb intake in the weeks before the race, and see what works best for you.
Reference: Burke et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 Mar 1;29(2):117-129.