Race Week Tapering and Nutrition

Race Week is finally hereMandurah IronMan 70.3

images (3)All the hard work and preparation is done and dusted, and if not….well its basically too late, about 2-3 weeks out from the Race, is generally the last time to add any significant advancement in your Race ability, this week is all about being Tapering, Resting and being Fresh. A word of warning to those who are still training hard, you are doing damage to your Race performance, and will overcook yourself!!





images (1) Training this week is about maintaining Intensity and lowering Volume. Very short intervals at race intensity, decreasing in length as week progresses. There has been much research that indicate Rest and periods of Short Race Intensity Intervals are the best way to arrive at the start line, Fresh, Peaked and ready for a PB.

I can attest to having my best races in any event by being fully rested and following the tapering system that works for the Pro’s. I recently had my marathon PB (3:03) on City to Surf, which is very hilly on the back half of that marathon, by 10 minutes over my previous record, which was City of Perth about 6 weeks prior (3:13), which was extremely flat course. The reason for the difference was additional rest and relaxation, so much that I was even worried prior to Race day, that I was “undercooked”, but all the additional rest which I planned, made for a pretty even split race and PB.
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Now there is such a thing as too much rest, hence why Intensity is maintained during taper week, Calorie intake also needs to be monitored as the reduction in training volume will mean a need to reduce energy intake. Otherwise Race Weight will increase!



Here is my Top 5 nutrition tips: I have used over the past years. (Note: This is not medical advice, please contact your GP if seeking to change your nutrition as it may affect your halth)



  1.  Additional salt to meals 2 days out from race (I mean Rock/Himalayan or Sea, not the refined rubbish), these sources add in minerals and electrolytes to your diet and may help prevent cramping on Race Day!


  1. Eat 3-4 bananas a day for 4 days prior to race as this will increase Potassium levels, also add in coconut water 2 glasses a day. (This is also used in my Race Fuel, which I will discuss in another Post). Depending on training leading into race, and your Race Goals, if it was high volume, you may want to consider topping up on magnesium this week also. I picked the ‘banana’ tip up from Chris McCormack’s Book – “To keep the muscles saturated, McCormack learned that he needed mineral-based hydration at the muscular level (versus gulping water, which saturates the blood and then quickly leaves the body). In the weeks leading up to Kona, McCormack loaded up on electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, saturated his muscles, and experienced not one cramp during the race”. I only do this if temperature will be over 25C degree on Race day.




  1. Aim to Lower – high Fibre food types and Fibrous vegetable sources, 2 days out from race (I eliminate the day before). The aim is to have easily digestible soluble foods only in the Gut which can be up-taken through the membrane wall easily and reduce gut loading/Stress and the need for waste removal (especially on race day!!)



  1. Avoid high Carbo-Loading parties and high Carbo-loading in general the days before, I generally think they should be avoided, these will often lead to bloating through mass intake of unneeded carbohydrates, Instead load up over the week at responsible level, lowering leafy vegetables closer to Race day. You will not starve to death on the race course, so don’t eat like you will! Complex carbohydrates are best – quality pasta or sweet potatoes.


  1. Race Morning: Aim 200-300 Calorie in-take, each hour prior to the race start, Years ago I would eat quite a big breakfast before a Race, but now I know its not necessary with the above steps. I simply have coffee, toast (white bread – (only time I will have it)) with honey and drink a special sports beverage I have tailored to my needs as Race Fuel. The reason I like to eat light, is the fact my muscles are fully loaded with glycogen, I top them up, as they will have slightly decreased overnight, anything above this will only sit in stomach and give that sluggish feeling. The quicker you intend to Race, the more weighted you nutrition needs to be towards liquid on Race day. Especially with duration of Half IronMan races and less.

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In summary: Lower training volume, maintain short race pace intervals, aim to be fatigue-free and totally fresh by Race day. You will lose a little fitness, But this will be more than compensated by being Fresh and ready to go!!

Relax and enjoy this week, Feel free to try some of my tips.

And may you Race Well!!

5 thoughts on “Race Week Tapering and Nutrition

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