The three to four days leading up to a meet are so important to being successful. Tired legs during a race are the biggest problem and proper eating before a meet can dramatically delay those tired legs. You can maintain a high level performance throughout a race if your body is given 48 to 72 hours to properly hydrate and fuel.
The energy used during a race comes from the glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is a form of sugar that comes from eating carbohydrates. One of the most important things to consider in a pre-meet meal is to eat enough carbohydrates to fill the muscle and liver stores. However, the carbohydrates you eat cannot properly be converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver without water. Therefore, water is a critical part of storing glycogen. Remember, the ability to produce speed and power during a race is dependent on how much glycogen is available to the muscles.
The meals you eat three to four days before a meet should be high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. The meal you eat the night before the meet should be one-third protein (chicken, fish) and two-thirds starchy foods (rice, potatoes, pasta). You should drink 12-16 ounces of water with each meal. In addition, the night before the meet, you should eat a high carbohydrate snack (frozen yogurt, cereal bar, fruit) and a glass of water one hour before going to bed. If you want to have a great race, waiting until the day or night before the race to eat properly is too late!
On the day of the meet, you should be up at least 2 hours before your race and eat at least 1 ½ hours before your race. Your breakfast should also be high in carbohydrates (waffles, pancakes, toast, bagels, breakfast shake) and you should again drink a full glass of water.
If your race is later in the day, try to eat three to four hours before the event. A light high carbohydrate snack (frozen yogurt, cereal bar, fruit) can be eaten 1 ½ hours before your race. Again, water is so important, drink 8 ounces of water thirty minutes before the start of your race.
FOODS THAT ARE HIGH IN CARBOHYDRATES:
Multi-grain cereals, whole-grain cereals and breads, fresh or dried fruits, low fat yogurt, bagels, pasta, beans, fruit bars, pretzels, vegetables, rice, toast, waffles, pancakes, bread, potatoes, sports drinks, nonfat milk.