What to eat on race day?

You’ve done the training. All your kit is packed and ready to go. But have you thought about your race day nutrition ?

This past weekend I attended Mallorca 70.3 – one of the biggest half Ironman events in the world. Over pizza and pasta at dinner the night before the race one of the athletes competing casually asked me what he should eat during the race.

The race was about to begin in less than 12 hours and until that moment it hadn’t crossed his mind to think about race day nutrition.

Create a race day plan in advance

He isn’t alone either.

I see many highly motivated athletes who focused all their energy and attention on getting the training done then forgot to consider what is going to fuel their efforts.

What you eat the day before and the day of a race can have a HUGE impact on your performance – reducing fatigue, allowing you to ride with greater power or run at faster speeds without hitting the wall or bonking.

Figuring out what you eat long before the race happens gives you time to test out and see what does or doesn’t works for you.

Some athletes swear by gels, others prefer real food. We are all different and what works for someone else isn’t always ideal for you and your body.

Preferably a few weeks in advance

Races are stressful enough without having to think about what to eat. On race day you don’t want any surprises and having one less thing to think about means you can focus on racing.

The golden rule with race day nutrition is to NEVER try anything new on race day.

Races can be won and lost in the portaloos. Trying something new on race day could cause gastrointestinal stress that leaves you running for the bathroom. Not what you want come race day!

Testing out your race day plan in a similar training session a few weeks before helps ensure there is no unwanted surprises.

Use your training sessions to try new sports nutrition products out

The expo at a race often exposes you to awesome new sports nutrition brands that you don’t always see in your local stores.

This is great, just don’t go using it on race day unless you’ve tested it out on a training ride beforehand.

The last thing you need come race day is to be reliant on a particular food, gel or energy drink that doesn’t agree with you.

Remember, Race day nutrition isn’t EVERY day nutrition

The foods you are likely to eat on a race day are typically much higher in carbohydrate and sugars than you would eat on a standard training day.

As long as you aren’t eating like that every day, that’s okay!

It’s all about context.

If you want to learn more about how to fuel your training and how to create a race day nutrition plan, check out my online Cycling Nutrition Course .

Happy Training!

Gemma

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