Race Day Nutrition 101

Event day nutrition is something that can be confusing for those who are new to endurance sports.  Outside of athletics, we are accustomed to eating three balanced meals and watching what we eat so that we are not constantly fight the battle of the bulge.  On top of that, the quality of the food we eat is stressed. Is it non-gmo, free range, organic, gluten free? Does it provide you with the macro and micro nutrients that you need to sustain healthy body function?

With all of this detail paid to our daily nutrition, training nutrition is very easy to overthink.  If you find yourself stressing, it is time to reassess your training and racing nutrition.

It is important to preface the follow statements with the fact that these recommendations are geared to athletes who are just beginning their nutritional journey and are doing events that take 4 hours or less.

Whether in an event or training for an event, three key elements need to be considered.


Pre-event: The goal of pre-event nutrition is to provide the energy necessary to top off your body’s fuel tank (glycogen stores.)  Caloric intake will vary from 200-600 calories, dependent upon time since last eating, the intensity of the event and your ability to handle food prior to physical activity.  The timing typically varies from 15 minutes to 2 hours prior to activity.

During: Nutrition while training or racing will vary heavily upon the duration, intensity of the event and athlete size/stature.  Your #1 goal is to fuel your performance. Because of this, your primary calorie consumption should be carbohydrates. Caloric intake can vary from 100-350 calories per hour.

Post-event: Unlike pre-event and during-event nutrition, your goal shifts from performance generation to physical recovery.

These are just some things to consider when building your training and racing nutrition plan. If you’re interested in how to fuel yourself for best results, our Science of Speed coaches will be happy to provide guidance based on their personal racing and training experiences. As well, SoS can connect you with a nutritionist that understands the athlete’s body.

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