Here is something to do for a few days during taper week that you won’t see written anywhere else (at least not this specific approach.. and probably nothing even similar) and that is to eat a bowl of All Bran cereal twice a day for 36 – 48 hours ending 36 – 48 hours before race start.
It is that simple… Eat (with or without milk if you prefer and with any other additions to the cereal that your prefer.. fruit, honey, nuts whatever) one cup of All Bran Cereal in the morning and evening starting on Wednesday if your race is on Saturday.
So Wednesday morning and evening, then Thursday morning and evening then stop (if you have a Saturday race.. move Wednesday to Thursday if your race is on Sunday). You could also stop with Thursday morning if things seem to be going quite well.
Why in the world would I tell you to consider doing this? For two reasons:
1) To seriously help reduce the chance of gastrointestinal issues on race day
2) To come into race day 2 – 4lbs lighter than you would have been otherwise.
I came up with this approach three years ago with a couple of Boston Marathon friends of mine and while I only generally do it for big important races.. it can really help you come into a race more comfortable and light.
There is 5 – 8 lbs of waste hanging out right now in every one of us. By utilizing the power of the extraordinarily high fiber content of the wheat bran of All Bran we can significantly reduce the chances of unwanted GI issues during a race. Some of you may never get this type of problem in a race, but by performing this ritual you will still feel more comfortable around your core. You are also reducing any potential pressure on your diaphragm (which is right near the stomach) which should have a positive impact on your ability to breath easier during the race.
Why All Bran and not another high fiber food? You can use other foods if you wish or if you allergic to wheat (like Psyllium Seed drinks or other very high fiber foods) but make sure that most of the fiber is insoluble so that it is more effective at pushing things through. I guess it is just that we started with All Bran and it is easy to get at most any grocery store.
I most definitely do not recommend trying this approach for the first time during your taper week before a big race. Try it a time or two at least a month out from your race. Also if you don’t generally get much fiber in your diet (why don’t you?) then I would start by gradually building up your fiber intake before trying this. That having been said… be careful and start with a half cup twice a day your first time. It will still definitely have an effect (it is powerful stuff) and will reduce the chance of issues. That being written… I am only writing about an approach that I helped to formulate with some friends that might be of value to you but take no responsibility if you have issues with taking in higher amounts of fiber because of a medical issue or so forth. I have known no one that had any issues attempting this (you can feel a certain amount of pressure the first day as things are being “worked out”) but start slowly and know your limitations and conditions (as any athlete should).
I know this may seem like an off the wall approach, but the All Bran Plan can (if used judiciously) make you more comfortable and lighter on your feet at the start and during the race!
Best of luck in your training!