By Alexandra Borrelly Lebrun
Its one week before your XTERRA race, the week where you reduce your training, prepare your kit, fix your bike and of course, prepare nutritionally for what you are going to put your body through. At this point it is important not to change your diet too much by trying the latest fad you saw on Instagram. It's best to stick to some good, solid principles that will help fuel your body effectively on race day.
Monday & Tuesday
Goal: Decrease glycogen stores
Normally the training during these two days is reduced both in volume and intensity – either for recovery or due to traveling etc. Use this time to eat less carbohydrates and increase the number of vegetables, proteins, and fats. Avoid pasta or rice-based meals, replace potatoes with green vegetables, and increase your protein intake with fish, chicken, tofu, or eggs. For snacking, avoid sweets and sugars and eat nuts. Almonds and cashews are great alternatives to a bag of Haribo : ) If you do need a treat, then a small square or two of dark chocolate can cure a craving – just make sure that the cocoa content is at least 70%
If this is the first time trying this race week diet, then perhaps consider cutting out 50% of carbohydrates and sugars from each of your meals to make sure that your body will accept the changes.
Wednesday & Thursday
Goal: Fill up your glycogen stores
Training load is typically increased across these two days as you arrive at the XTERRA race venue and begin to explore the course ahead of race day. This increased activity combined with your depleted glycogen stores will require you to significantly up your carbohydrate intake. The best choice is whole carbohydrates with a low GI index; wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, half whole rice, beans, quinoa and buckwheat. Keep eating proteins and vegetables, and feel free to add in some sugar in the form of a nice dessert or two after dinner.
Friday & Saturday
Goal: Keep glycogen stores at their maximum while avoiding digestion issues
Typically these days have reduced training volume but with some intensity in the form of the final pre-race sessions. Your diet shouldn’t differ too much from the previous days, but by switching to foods that are easily digestible you’ll ensure your body keeps your stores at it’s maximum levels without causing any GI issues. Bring back the potatoes, white rice, and choose white meats such as chicken and fish over red meat. Reduce your dairy intake and avoid foods with high acidic content such as kiwi fruit, lemons, and tomato sauce.
Ensure that you take some food with you during your training sessions, a small energy/cereal bar, some energy drink, dried fruits. Make sure that you eat them during or straight after your pre-race session to top off your glycogen stores straight away post training. And don’t forget your water bottle!
As long as it is healthy with a good mix of nutrients, the final meal before the race is largely down to personal preference.
My favorite pre-race meal is;
- Salad with grated carrots and nuts, drizzled with Olive and Colza oil
- White fish served with Basmati rice, cooked zucchinis and a pesto sauce
- Whole bread (Gluten free!)
Bon Appetit and Stay focused!
Alexandra Borrelly Lebrun is a coach for Organicoach and a doctor in pharmacy, specialized in sport nutrition