Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Pre-race meal plan for Colour Me Happy

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

On the afternoon of Saturday, January 24, when you arrive at Hope Gardens to participate in Jamaica's happiest race, the second Colour Me Happy 5K, you need to ensure that you are properly prepared. Whether walking or running, your pre-race nutrition is just as important as your physical preparedness to ensure optimal energy and overall performance as you tackle the route.

Kamila McDonald, certified personal trainer, sports nutritionist and a host of the Colour Me Happy 5K, offers some great tips to share to ensure that you consume the right foods at the right time, so that you can fully enjoy the experience and party after the race.

What should you eat the day before Colour Me Happy?

What you eat the day before the 5K is very important and will affect your performance on race day. To begin with, the first and most important 'rule' is 'nothing new, only tried and true'. The day before race day is not the time to experiment with new, unfamiliar food. Stick with meals you are accustomed to eating to avoid a possible unpleasant reaction to food you haven't tried before.

Eat a big breakfast, lunch and dinner the day before with two snacks in-between. Your focus should be on low and mid-glycaemic carbs such as sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Make sure you have lean protein and good fats at each meal. Avoid food that is oily or greasy, extra spicy as well as those very high in fibre and sodium.

Low-sodium energy bars, wholewheat bread with peanut butter, small sandwiches and fruit are good choices for snacks.

It is very important to stay hydrated throughout the day, with water being your main fluid of choice. Coconut water is also a good option because it is packed with well-needed, natural electrolytes.

What should you eat on race day?

The Colour Me Happy 5K starts at 4 p.m. This makes it quite different from most other 5K events which typically are scheduled for early morning.

This late afternoon start does affect how you would normally eat on a typical race day.

Eat your heaviest meal at breakfast some time between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. This meal should consist of carbohydrates, protein and some fat. A good meal would be some oatmeal with bananas, flaxseed and raw unsalted almonds, along with some egg whites and green tea. A wholesome breakfast will keep you satisfied throughout the morning with lots of time to digest before race time. Try to eat a meal or snack every three hours to keep your blood sugar stable.

Most important, ensure you have your last meal/snack 90 minutes to two hours before the race. As it gets closer to race time, eat lighter meals focusing on carbs, a little bit of lean protein, low fat and low fibre. Two slices of toast or a bagel spread with peanut butter, whole grain crackers, a light sandwich, granola bar, trail mix or a fruit are all good options.

Keep hydrated throughout the day. However, one to two hours before the race start sipping, because you don't want to overload on liquids too close to race time.

You have finished the race. It's time to party. What now?

As soon as possible, as soon as the race is over, refuel the body with a meal/snack high in carbohydrate and moderate in protein - preferably 30 minutes or less after your race is complete. Also, drink water and coconut water to replace fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat during the race.

Take these guidelines into consideration and don't forget to have fun! Break a sweat, enjoy yourself. Feel good, knowing that your participation in the second Colour Me Happy 5K means you are contributing and playing your part in building basic schools across Jamaica. Have a happy and colourful race!