Achieving your best performance on event day will take
- Plenty of protein and carbs
- A balanced diet with all the vitamins and minerals
- Rest days
- Plenty of sleep
- Water. Lots and lots of water!!!
Fatigue hitting during your event can impact enormously not only on your finishing time but on your overall enjoyment. Hydration is crucial in staving off fatigue and helping you to get to the finish line in good time and in good shape.
Hydrating before a race
Planning your hydration has to start well before race day. You need to build hydration routines into your normal training days as well as your rest days. We need a minimum of 2 litres of water per day for general health and this will increase on days you train as your body uses sweat to cool you down. Typically you need 500mls of water for every hour you exercise and you may need more in the hours after training. One tip is you weigh yourself before and after training. You need to drink double the difference of the weight you lost.
Checking the colour of your urine is also helpful. Your urine should be very pale yellow to clear. If it is darker, it is a sign that you need to drink more water.
On the day of an event, make sure you hydrate in the hours coming up to the event. It is good to get around 500mls of water in the hour before. Becoming even 2-3% dehydrated will reduce your race performance significantly but will also impact on brain function. A long endurance event needs you to be mentally, as well as physically, strong.
For short events – less than 45 minutes you probably don’t need any water but once you are exercising for more than an hour you will need to top up as you go. It is important for long events to plan your hydration in advance. Having a race plan telling you what to drink and at what point can help you stay on target. Remember to practice your hydration plan at least twice during training so you know what works for you. That way you know you are getting the fluids you need during your race and you then only have to focus on getting to the finish line.
Sarah Keogh in association with John West
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.