In order to feel good on a trail, training and preparation are important. But a few hours before the race, food will be essential. So what should you eat before a trail?
Oil in the engine, nutrients in the body
Overall, trail running races start early in the morning in order to cope with the harsh climatic conditions and the sometimes long trials. Only the biggest races in the world start in the late afternoon or early evening. If you ever come to align yourself with the diagonale des fous or the UTMB, it is very likely that your power supply for the race is perfectly fine-tuned and that our advice will be somewhat redundant for you ... We will therefore assume that the race you're preparing for, starts at sunrise.
The day before, crucial moment
The idea is to start paying attention to what you eat several days before the start of the race. The goal is to avoid any digestive disorder, to build up a massive store of glycogen (the molecule that stores energy in the body) and to anticipate the losses that your body will suffer during the race. To do this, it is important to avoid poorly digestible foods and to be careful about consuming raw vegetables which may cause digestive discomfort and tend to ferment. Otherwise, the consumption of starchy foods is important, especially to provide a large stock of proteins and minerals. And above all, remember to hydrate yourself a lot, thanks to Saint-Yorre or Rozana type waters which contain a lot of mineral salts. These same salts that you will naturally lose in mass during the race.
The last meal may consist of fat-free white meat and wholemeal pasta. Be careful, however, not to overcook the pasta, it would be ingested in fast sugars and not in slow sugars, which would be a major problem when seeking sleep. A cooked fruit or a compote can serve as a dessert before going to bed!
3h or 4h before departure, you will have to eat your meal. No later on pain of delayed ignition and intestinal problems. Once again, trail running falls into the category of endurance sports when breakfast comes in. It is therefore important to avoid fiber as much as possible while making the mix between a supply of nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins. Eggs, country bread, a drop of honey, a compote and you're done. As for hot drinks, a tea that is not too infused will be perfect. However, be sure to test your typical meal before a workout, otherwise you will get a bad surprise.
During the race
During the whole race, you will lose a lot of minerals and nutrients, so it is essential to hydrate the body frequently. In small amounts, often enough to prevent possible dehydration. The gradual intake of carbohydrates will also have to be done in order to cope with hypoglycemia, a drop feared by all cross-country skiers, cyclists and other runners. On the food side, the dried fruits and gingerbread often present in the refreshments will be beneficial to cope. Using energy bars and gels is as convenient as it is beneficial. However, and this is our final tip: don't try a brand you don't know. Try out the brand and taste of your choice yourself in training to see whether or not you support the taste, texture and most importantly, digestion. You absolutely must not take the risk of discovering a new brand during the race, the digestive consequences could be disastrous ...