What should I eat the day of a race? What should I eat during a race? I get these questions all the time so I thought that since the Whistler Fondo is fast approaching I would pass on some helpful race-day nutrition tips.
During a race or a long training ride/run...Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. Those are words to live by.
The morning of the race:
You should eat a well balanced breakfast 1-3 hours prior to your race. It's important to include carbs, protein, and fat. This will help control your blood sugar better. If you are too nervous or busy to sit down for a nice breakfast make a smoothie from Yogurt, milk, protein powder, fruit, water, and a pinch of salt. This will be easy to digest and has all the necessary nutrients. Start hydrating the day before a big race or event, and make sure you drink lots of water that morning. Try and be finished hydrating an hour before the start so you have plenty of time for your bladder to fill and empty...
During the race:
Try to eat every 30 minutes, and begin after the first 30 minutes even if you aren't hungry yet.
For a longer race like the Whistler Gran Fondo you will likely need roughly 100-200 calories per hour depending on how big you are and how hard you are riding. (Heavier and more intense = more food)
If you are like me eating too much 'race food' can give you GI distress (cramps, gas, etc.) Here are some great natural alternatives:
raisins, dates, dried apricots, small homemade cookies
When you pack your food for the ride keep everything as easy as possible:
- pre-open all packages (except energy gels), that way you aren't messing around while riding.
- Keep all food bite sized, you can cut up a bar into bite sized chunks and put them in a zip lock
- do not seal zip lock bags, instead place the cookies/bars inside with the top open and simply roll it up. super easy to open and eat.
- if you make cookies make them small and bite sized
- most important of all...Take food that you will actually eat. There is no point in packing all that food and making a race day nutrition plan if the food you brought tastes like crap and you won't eat it.
Remembering to eat and hydrate during a long event or race can have massive performance implications. Under nourished and dehydrated is a guaranteed decrease in performance (can be up to 30% decrease). Avoid the pain and suffering at the end of a long race, and the feeling of just wanting to quit by making and sticking to a race day nutrition plan.
Lastly, you should be practicing your race day eating on all your long training rides.
Good luck out there.