I was watching the women’s Olympic marathon and heard the announcers talking about the Chinese imitating the Japanese in eating their main meal three hours before the start of the marathon.
Hmm, that sounds familiar. Hammer Nutrition recommends this same protocol in their Endurance Sports Nutrition – Fueling Handbook. Check out the Pre-Race Meal chapter to get all of the details and here is the overview from this chapter below:
- The title is somewhat of misnomer,
because you don’t really need a
full-fledged meal, just a snack to top
off your liver glycogen. Your muscle
glycogen, the first fuel recruited
when exercise begins, does not
- You don’t need a big meal. You
don’t need much protein, if any.
You don’t need fiber. You need
little, if any fat, and you want zero
saturated fat. This isn’t the time
for a fully-balanced, healthy meal.
You primarily want easy to digest
- Whatever you eat, finish a
good three hours before race
time to allow adequate time for
digestion, absorption, and your
blood glucose regulation system
- Pre-exercise hunger is not a
sign of depleted glycogen; you
can begin a workout or race when
hungry. Once you get going, the
hunger will stop. You do, however,
want a full load of muscle glycogen,
and that only comes from months
of endurance training and proper
recovery nutrition. You will not gain
anything (except weight) by carboloading
before a race.
- A good pre-race snack might
consist of a serving or two of
Hammer Gel, a serving of Sustained
Energy or Perpetuem, a bagel, a
baked potato, or some combination
For all longer events like a marathon, this protocol has worked for me. I also like a liquid carbohydrate breakfast. For shorter events, the recommendations differ a bit as noted in the guide.
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Posted on 20 Aug 2008