Worried you’ll forget something? Here’s a fuel packing list to keep you nourished for your big event. – By Pamela Nisevich Bede
Even seasoned racers occasionally forget their gels, bib, clothing, shoes—you name it. As race day approaches, here’s a race day packing list to check off as you get ready for your big event. Hopefully it will save you some lost sleep.
1. First of all, consider the conditions in which you’ll be racing. These conditions may determine how you’ll transport your gels. From shorts with pockets to a lightweight jacket in case of rain, be sure to have options in case of a last-minute weather change. Along with the perfect outfit, remember your fuel belt if you’re using one or some safety pins to keep those gels close at hand.
2. Experts recommend you try nothing new on race day, so pack food items that are familiar to you and that you experimented with during months of training. This includes items for a pre-race breakfast and possibly even a pre-race dinner the night before. Over the hours and kilometres of training, you likely developed a pre-run eating routine that successfully fuelled your muscles while being kind to your stomach. Make a list of these foods to pack, and then pack them!
3. Pack your fluids! This is especially important for races held on hot, humid days. Your goal throughout the race is to avoid excessive weight loss due to fluid losses. Sports drinks are an excellent resource to meet carb, sodium, and overall fluid needs. Practice your hydration strategy during training. On race day, you want to head to the starting line well-hydrated but not over-hydrated. In the 2-3 hours before the race begins, sip on 600ml of water or sports drink, and then top off your tank with approximately 200ml 20 minutes before the starting gun fires. Rely on hydration stations throughout the race to meet your hydration needs, or pack all you need in a hydration pack.
4. Are you a salty sweater? If so, you need to pack food and fluid that helps replete your sodium loss. An added benefit of sodium-containing foods and beverages is that if chosen correctly, these items can also supply much-needed calories and carbohydrates. On race day, pack the following in your bag: High-carb, high-sodium sports gels; electrolyte supplements; salty, easy-to-digest snacks for before the race; sports drinks; and sports bars.
5. Don’t forget about carbohydrates! Carb-containing foods will power you through the gruelling moments in an endurance event. Consume enough carbs, and it’s easier to quiet that voice in your head telling you that you won’t finish. Avoid hitting the wall by consuming 30-60 grams of carbs every hour. Mimic your training, and pack whatever fuel you’ve been using during your long runs. Pack more than you think you need. You never know when your running partner might forget their fuel, or you might need more carbs to make it over the wall. Do the math: Make sure you have at least enough fuel from gels, blocks, or beans to supply 30+ grams of carbs an hour.