by Craig Jordan
Anyone who has ever engaged in a competitive race has likely experienced one of two feelings after crossing the finish line: 1) I didn’t train enough, wasn’t prepared and had a bad day, or 2) That was awesome, because my hard work paid off and I could’ve run even faster.
If you’ve experienced that first feeling, there is a chance you’ve made a promise to modify your training regime or racing tactics to improve your future race performance.
Too often, people overlook one important change that can be key to race-day success: Modifying your nutritional intake before a race is as important as training and tactics.
Here are some changes I’ve found successful and easy to adopt.
1. Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks and other fad beverages promoted as part of a healthy lifestyle can often have a negative effect on performance because of the added calories they bring to your diet. I carry a water bottle with me to make my commitment to water easier. Drinking water helps cleanse my body and has improved my overall commitment level because I feel better.
2. Be consistent with meal times and the foods you select. In the weeks leading up to a big race, remove processed foods from your menu. Focus on natural ingredients, whole grains and leafy greens. Have fruits and nuts ready for regularly scheduled snack times. Relying on fast food and easy meals ahead of a competition is lazy – behavior that can translate to your performance on race day. Similarly, your commitment to healthy, regular meals will make you stronger when it matters.
3. Pattern your diet on a friend’s. A commitment to modifying your nutritional intake is easier when you have a support system in place. Think of making changes with a friend, or seek out the advice of a friend who makes nutritional choices you want to emulate.
4. Don’t make early nutritional changes too drastic. Positive changes that stick often start as small commitments. At first, take easy steps to modifying your nutrition. For example, if you love sports drinks, try to replace just one a day with water at the start. Over time, you’ll find your desire for sports drinks will lessen, which will encourage you to drink more water.
Nutrition is a big factor in performance. It’s why as of March 18, I’ve decided to take the small step of replacing my daily intake of Dr. Pepper with water (and I love Dr. Pepper).
What small modification will you make to be healthier and enhance your performance?
Guest blogger Craig Jordan is an elite-level runner who competes for Butler University in the NCAA Division 1 level of Track and Field. He is a two-time Atlantic 10 Conference Champion, and currently works as a health and fitness intern at JCC Indianapolis.