How do you keep fit and healthy in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a race? Your number ONE priority must be to avoid a cold or infection of minor injury. Fine tuning your food and lifestyle will promote immune health and energy production to build nutritional resilience and enable you to bounce back quickly if you are unlucky and catch a cold or pick up an injury.
Often runners will think about their race day food plan which may include the week leading up to the race, which is great, however there are benefits to fine tuning food and lifestyle in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a race.
Mostly it’s taking a “protective approach” if you’ve been training for an important race event then you’ll want to perform at your best on the day and the last thing you want is your preparations to be derailed by illness, infections, injuries or low energy.
Today we are focusing on keeping you fit and healthy in the 3-4 weeks leading up to race day. We’re talking about:
1. Building nutritional resilience to support our immune system and energy production cycle
2. How optimising rest/sleep and minimising stress will support you
3. What to add in and take out in the 3-4 weeks leading up to race day
What is nutritional resilience and why is it important? Use the time when you’ll be “tapering your training” to focus on taking care of your health (through nutrition and lifestyle upgrades) will help you get to the start line in the best possible shape.
A focus on supporting immune health and energy production.
Nutritional foundations and how to enhance them in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a race, especially focusing on key vitamins and minerals i.e., Vitamin C, B Vitamins and Magnesium.
Food Sources of Vitamin C include:
· Citrus fruits: Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, lime
- Berries: Black Currant, Strawberries
- Tropical Fruits: Kiwifruit, Papaya, pineapple, Mango, Guava, cantaloupe melon
- Green leafy/Cruciferous vegetables; Broccoli, kale, parsley, brussels sprouts, spinach, watercress
- Red and green peppers, tomatoes
- Offal – liver
Food Sources of Vitamin B include:
- Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet)
- Legumes (beans, lentils)
- Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
- Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale)
- Meat (red meat, poultry, fish)
- Eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese) and
- Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)
Aileen’s personal experience of severe B Vitamin deficiency and recovery.
Food Sources of Magnesium include:
· GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES e.g. spinach, kale and swiss chard. Nuts and seeds e.g. Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds.
· You’ll also get Mg in SEA VEGETABLES – e.g. kelp, Nori. You can buy these as flakes to sprinkle over salads and fish dishes. You can also purchase seaweed wafers as a snack pack. Itsu and Clearspring are popular brands.
· WHOLEGRAINS e.g. oats and buckwheat are also good sources.
· And of course, DARK CHOCOLATE is a rich source of Mg too with 28g (1oz) containing 64mg of Mg…approx. 16% of the RDI. Just remember to ensure you choose dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao.
The importance of an optimal Vitamin D status and considerations for additional immune support supplements in the lead up to a race.
Our favourite multi is WeAreFeel IMMUNITY – contains betaglucans, Vitamin D, D, Zinc and some other herbal extracts all to support the immune system. If you’d like to give WeAreFeel a try use special discount code PARTNER20 – 20% off the first month of Feel subscription products, excluding Bundles.
The importance of optimising quality sleep and rest.
Sleep is a vital part of rest and recovery and sleep deprivation may affect running performance in many ways …
· Impaired glycogen repletion – and optimal glycogen stores are essential for a runner for fuel
· Decreased muscle synthesis – lean muscle is required by a runner for strength and power
· Poor muscle recovery – increased risk of injury
· Poor cognitive function – leading to slow reaction time and poor judgement decision making
· May lead to poor food choices which may affect insulin sensitivity therefore affect our ability to replenish glycogen stores following exercise as well as affect the body’s ability to synthesise muscle protein.
Related Episodes on SLEEP:
The impact of stress on running performance.
Being an endurance runner puts you into a state of stress so it’s important to include 1 FULL REST DAY as part of your training schedule and to consider what else is going on in your life which may be adding stressors – could be physical, emotional, social, lifestyle, environmental.
Any type of STRESS – chronic and acute stress will suppress your immune system and deplete you of important nutrients for the energy cycle and immune system. So, everything you do to lighten your life load and to add restorative rest will support your overall health enormously.
Some “stressors” are outside of our control, so it is important to acknowledge the ones within our control and address them.
By minimising and/or eliminating the controllable stress, we help the body deal with the stressors outside of our control.
Making time for regular “de-stressing” activities will also help balance adrenal hormones – add in short easy things like having regular 5-10 minute breaks through the day, maybe doing some breath work or enjoying anything which calms you will help counteract levels of chronic stress.
Booking a Supplement Review – if you are thinking about optimising your supplement plan at any time but especially in the lead up to a race consider booking a Personalised Supplement Review BOOK HERE The Supplement Review includes:
· An assessment of your health and running goals, current medication and supplements
· 1 x 30-minute zoom consultation
· Follow up written Supplement plan with suggestions of brands and therapeutic doses
· 1 x 15 minute follow up zoom review check-in call
· 10% discount at our one stop shop supplier
· The fee for this is £149 and you may be booked here
Should you remove or minimise alcohol in the lead up to a race?
Getting the best nutrition from your food choices and how limiting processed foods, junk foods and takeaway meals may help your nutrition status.
Being prepared – coping with last minute colds, infections, and minor injuries.
1. Ensure you are focusing on healthy nutritious foods in the 3-4 weeks leading up to your race – focus on maximising a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals by eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruit.
2. Check our show notes for food sources of Vitamin C, B Vitamins and Magnesium (these tend to be depleted in cases of chronic stress which may impact on immune health and energy production).
3. Invest in good quality sleep and rest, keep your social calendar light on commitments
4. Minimise alcohol and junk food/processed foods/takeaway meals
5. Empty your stress bucket – eliminate any stressors within your control and have de-stressing breaks and activities to balance stress hormones
6. Consider a supportive supplement plan and have essential nutrients at hand to deal with seasonal colds or minor injuries.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Also, when you’re ready, here are FIVE ways that we can help you:
2) Join Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners HUB. Please join our FREE private facebook group for education, tips, inspiration with like- minded female runners.
3) Get our Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners Online Programme. As a THANK YOU, please use COUPON CODE POD to get 33% discount off the full price which brings the price to £199.
4)Find out if you are the right fit for our Healthy Woman Healthy Runner Programme. Please book a free Discovery Call.
5) If you love our FREE stuff but need more help and would like to find out which of our services would be best for you. We’d love to have a short informal (no obligation) chat to see how we can help you. Book a free call here.
We love to hear from our listeners – what are your nutrition and running goals, challenges and successes, please drop us a line at email@example.com
Best Wishes and Happy Running!
Karen and Aileen