by Peter Streather

Don't let your diet deviate too much from what got you there in the first place!

FLUIDS - Don't drink excess amounts of water in the hopes of getting a head start on your fluid requirements for the race. Consumption of roughly .5 to .6 of your body weight is a good gauge in regards to how much water you should be consuming daily (example: 180-lb athletes should drink approximately 90-108 ounces of water daily). However, if you've not been following this recommendation consistently, don't start now, as this will overwhelm your body with too much fluid too soon, which may increase the potential for hypernatremia.

SOURCE: "Hydration - What You Need to Know"

CALORIES - Don't stuff yourself with extra food in the hopes that you're carbo loading. The time period for carbohydrate loading (i.e., maximizing muscle glycogen storage capabilities) has, for all intents and purposes, passed. In essence, "carbo loading" is what you did in the 0-60 minutes after all your workouts leading up to the race. That’s when the glycogen synthase enzyme - which controls glycogen storage - is most active, and that's how you topped off your glycogen stores. Any excess food you eat in the days leading up to the race is either going to be passed through the bowels or stored in adipose cells... neither of those things will benefit you.

SOURCE: "Recovery - A Crucial Component of Athletic Success"

SODIUM - Don't consume extra sodium (salt) in the hopes that you'll be "topping off your body stores" prior to the race. Since the average American already consumes approximately 6000 to 8000 mg per day (if not more), an amount well above the upper end recommended dose of 2300-2400 mg/day, there is absolutely no need to increase that amount in the days prior to the race. (Hint: Adopting a low-sodium diet will do wonders for both your health and athletic performance). High sodium intake, especially in the days leading up to the race, is a recipe for disaster because it will greatly increase the potential for disruption of the hormonal mechanisms that control sodium regulation, re-circulation, and conservation. In the days leading up the race, be especially cognizant of the salt content in your foods, especially if you go out to eat. Restaurant food is oftentimes loaded with sodium, so dining out can dramatically increase your already high salt intake.

SOURCE: "Electrolyte Replenishment - Why It's So Important and How to Do It Right"

Eat clean, eat until you're satisfied, then call it a night - You can't positively affect muscle glycogen storage capabilities the night before the race, a time when the glycogen synthase enzyme, which again, is the enzyme that controls glycogen storage, is inactive (hint: that's why post-workout refuelling is so important). Consume complex carbohydrates, some high quality protein, and low-to-no saturated fat, make sure your meal is low in sodium, and be sure to drink sufficient amounts (but not too much) of water. Skip the alcohol, fatty foods, and dessert & save those "rewards" for after the race.

SOURCE: "Recovery - A Crucial Component of Athletic Success"