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Race Day Nutrition

Race Day Nutrition

This is what I have tweaked and used over the years. It works for me and keeps me consistent and ready without having to worry about it before every event.

1. Determine Race Start Time– Start time determines everything. This is where you reverse engineer your plan for the day.
Ideally, your final pre-race meal would be 3-4 hours before your race. This will keep your stomach feeling light and ready to rock  not roll with the course. . Also, water is important to process food and when racing, that water is being used to produce sweat and maintain plasma volume. This will help you process  food after exercise. 

Morning Eating

If your race is morning, say 8 or 9 a.m., Eat very well before you go to bed, have a snack at bedtime. Apple slices with peanut butter are a great healthy option. In the morning, eat as early as you are comfortable with. Focus on easily digestible foods, primarily carbohydrates, and lots of water. You probably won’t have to eat as much as you would for a mid-day race, hopefully just 300-400 calories since you should have some good glycogen stores from overnight, plus your race is shorter. It will definitely take some experimentation. Always experiment in training NEVER race day!

Eat something familiar and healthy if you race in the morning.
If you’re racing between say 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.? You want about 500 calories, total. You want something that is reasonably easy to digest that contains mainly carbohydrates, but also some fat and protein. Lastly you want something

that is medium to high on the glycemic index. Don’t eat cereal (too high on the index, also 500 calories of cereal is a huge mass of cereal), but you also don’t want a steak. Find what works for you. My go to for years now has been 1/2 cup (uncooked) rice or GF pasta and two eggs, along with some kale or spinach. I may add a pinch of shredded cheese just for a little flavor and some pepper.

Make sure whatever you have is familiar and tested in training first!




What to Drink


  1. About 750ml of liquid is a good place to be. I find it takes 500ml to feel fresh from the previous day. Water is my goto and sometimes I’ll add cucumber or lime or lemon to give it a boost. Again, experiment in training first. On the drive to event, I always have a water bottle to sip. Ration it out don’t over drink either.


  1. 2-3 hours before your race, arrive at venue.  At kilthat point, replace calories as you would on a bike ride. I’ll typically have a Clif or Kind Breakfast bar Peanut Butter is my fav I’ll have 1 of the 2 bars in pk. ½ a serving) 90-120 minutes out just to replace the calories burned from course inspection. I also consume a sports drink while riding, 8oz one hour before start or more if it’s hot.

    Energy bars are a good option once you get to a race venue.
    An hour out, if it’s very hot, I’ll use Infinite Go or Skratch Hydration Again, test in training first.

    Before I go to staging I will often consume a gel or 3 Honey Stinger chews. You shouldn’t need that to get through a race. My blood sugar tends to crash fast so this helps me. I typically only do that for hour-long races or more.

    Late Afternoon Fueling

    If you’re racing after 1 p.m., maybe even after noon, you need two 500-calorie meals. But that can be very hard to stomach while dealing with race nerves. That’s especially true for me once I reach the venue. I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with the issue when they make the move from Cat 3/4 to 1/2/3 and racing several hours later in the day.

    My first recommendation would be eat whatever you want first thing in the morning. It’s 5+ hours before you race and it won’t matter at all what you eat then in terms of digestive issues later.

    1. Take whatever you normally would have eaten as your breakfast and eat that as your second meal of the day. Eat that meal 2-3 hours out from your race. That way you have a meal that you know works for you and you’re still somewhat on your old fueling plan from before.
      -I like Oatmeal or pasta/Rice and eggs here. If you’re worried about boo belly, consuming 200-300ml of water will aid in processing whatever you’ve eaten.

      You should be able to race and not be hungry for 30-60 minutes post-race. If you’re finishing and bonking as you cross the line or very shortly thereafter, you didn’t eat enough somewhere in the last 24 hours.

I consume a recovery drink or
I eat two servings of Chobani or Noosa yogurt with granola and half a cup of blueberries. It’s one of my favorite meals, which makes it a no-brainer after racing. After that, maybe grab something from the food truck and a beer watch the elites race. Then go out to dinner with your friends and eat well, especially if you are racing the next day.

If you’re having trouble with bonking, start tracking your total calories for 24-48 hours before your race starts to make sure you’re getting enough. Once you have that down then start digging into the composition of those calories. Good luck and go rock that race!

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