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This article appeared in the West Australian newspaper, Mind & Body lift out on Nov 3, 2009.
Nutritional preparation for an event like the Big Walk starts two days earlier. What you consume during the event may also affect your experience and performance. Don't forget about recovery as well, to avoid the day after becoming a write-off.
Preparation begins with eating good-quality low-fat meals. Each meal should include a drink to optimise hydration and try to avoid alcohol completely in these days.
Carbohydrate intake is the key in preparation for an aerobic event like the Big Walk. The meal the night before should be carbohydrate-based, such as pasta, rice or noodles, with a lean source of protein. It should also be something that you are familiar with and enjoy. Check that your urine is very clear the night before, indicating that you are well hydrated.
A good choke of breakfast for the morning of the event would be wholegrain cereal with light milk, or grainy toast and jam. Ensure you wake early enough to allow digestion of a good breakfast, as this is what adds the last major fuels for the event. Have a big drink with your meal too, pre-hydration will ensure you don't become dehydrated during the event. In very hot conditions it is advisable to continue sipping fluids until the race starts.
Your fluid requirements during the event will depend on your chosen distance and how hard you push yourself. Take advantage of the water stations around the course, and drink small amounts regularly. For those wanting to be competitive, plan to have a carbohydrate-based drink available to you at some stage around the course.
For optimum recovery after the event, it is best to have some form of carbohydrate to eat or drink immediately. This will replenish your muscle fuel stores and rehydrate you. Good choices include juicy fruit, a milk drink, a sandwich or a sweet muffin. If your appetite is low, aim to consume at a minimum some sports drink, followed by a more substantial meal when you get home. The next meal should include a good source of protein to help repair muscle damage.
I wish you not good luck but good planning.