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Chicago Marathon Race Week Tips

Ah taper week... or perhaps better known as the silence before the storm. Finally the time has come to let your body repair in preparation for Sunday's Day of Reckoning. For some of you, this may be old hat and you have it all figured out. For others this may be your first go at the Chicago Marathon, or rather any endurance race. Either way, for most, this week is filled with nerves and OCD ideations. Find some mental solace by thinking back to your training:

You ran despite snow, rain, heat, and darkness.
You ran when you'd rather be sleeping
You ran through cramps, through missing toenails, and lord only knows how many blisters.

You did it all to be ready for Sunday despite what your doubts may tell you. If you're still unsure, just checkout your tan-lines - no normal person has tan-lines like a marathon runner! While your training volume should have greatly decreased this week, proper nutrition will play an increasing role in preparation for the race. 




Tip #1 - Do not make any drastic changes! This is not the proper time to try carb loading because you read about it in a magazine. How and what you eat should be similar to the wholesome diet you've had all season. The same rule applies to your workouts. Tying to carb load with massive amounts of carbohydrates can make you swell-up. Experimenting with different sports supplements can also be disastrous. Plan to eat the same foods and use the same products you trained with all season during race week. Keep in mind that any radical change to your diet may cause - ahem - distress, to put it lightly. The last thing you want on race days is an upset stomach, constipation, or diarrhea. Stick to what you practiced with all season, it worked for a reason!

Tip #2 - Your pre-race dinner shouldn't be huge and heavy! Instead of going crazy and big for your Saturday night pre-race dinner, eat a slightly larger meal for lunch and eat a balanced meal consisting of protein, healthy fat and a little carbohydrates for an early dinner. This will ensure your body is able to digest your food with enough time so you can go to bed early and sleep well. Leave the fun dinner for after you cross the finish line on Sunday. Go out with your training buddies for some post-race fun!

Tip #3 - Eat the proper amount. With a decreased training volume you will need to reduce your calorie intake slightly to prevent unnecessary weight gain during the week. This could make you feel sluggish. Adequate intake of calories and protein are needed to help repair muscle and refill glycogen stores, both of which are imperative come race day. So if you're feeling fatigued during the day or gassed during your workouts, increase your intake a bit. 1-2 days before the race, if you feel the need you can add an additional serving of carbohydrates to your meals. Try using natural sources such as fruits or starchy veggies (sweet potatoes). If you are worried about fiber the day before, don't eat the skin and too many raw veggies.

Tip #4 - Get extra sleep. No workout or special food is going to make you have a better race. The best thing you can do this week is sleep well. Friday nights sleep is actually more important than Saturday nights sleep. Shut it down the rest of the week, and try sleeping in a little. Your morning runs this week are shorter, so getting an extra 15-30 minutes of rest will be nice for your body.

Tip #5 - Stay hydrated. Dehydration literally happens over night! Even slight decreases in body water can spell decreases in performance. Make sure to drink 16-20 fl oz of water immediately after waking each morning to help reduce overnight water losses. As a general rule, drink half your body weight in fluid ounces everyday. You will also need to replace water-loss from workouts. Worried about your fluid status? Simply check your urine. If it is pale yellow, you're just right. Clear or apple juice colored means you're drinking too much or not enough fluid. Electrolytes are extremely important for fluid and performance as well. Luckily the weather is looking perfect for Sunday, but if you are worried about fluid status, you can stop drinking plain water 1-2 days before your race and switch to unsweetened coconut water. Coconut water contains high amounts of naturally occurring potassium and magnesium that have health benefits that go beyond race day. You can also add 1/8 tsp of sea salt to every 8-10 fl oz of water or coconut water. If you eat a very clean diet, adding sea salt to your food this week will help too.

Good luck Sunday and enjoy the day. For customized sports nutrition plans and training packages, please call the office for details - 312.255.8308. 

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