Race Day Fuel - Part 2
During the Action
Racing puts the biggest demands on your body; asking it to go longer, harder, and survive more stress then in training. Think about fueling your body to match your race goals, not just your training goals.
Go above and beyond training nutrition.
A common issue is fueling a race like you would practice. While you should stick to foods you’ve practiced with, the nutrition guidelines might not support your race goals. For example, lets look at doing a 75 minute crit race. The guidelines say ‘don’t worry about fueling this activity because it is under 90 minutes and your body has enough stores to get your through. However, this isn’t a ‘lets get through it’ training session, this is a RACE and you should do more than ‘get through it’. You don’t have to over do it, but even a sport drink mouth rinse could be beneficial over nothing. Adding nutrition during an event like this can help boost your body’s energy and get you better results. Read more on the guidelines of eating during activity here.
Factor in HOW to consume your food.
In training, it is common to take a pit stop to refuel; eat your gel while at a stop light or roll into a gas station to snack on your bars or sandwich. While racing, this is not an option! You need to consider if you have the skill to take nutrition while working at your max effort and while in tight packs or difficult positioning. Not taking nutrition during a race because you’re not capable of taking a handout, reaching for your bottle, or unwrapping a bar will definitely hurt your performance. Read this for more info on practicing HOW to eat.
Type of Race.
Just like in training, the intensity and duration dictate what type of fuel you need to take in. For endurance races, you’ll need more calories overall and more calories from all three macronutrients. Bringing along items like trail mix, sandwiches, bars, and gels make sense. However, if you’re doing that 75 minute crit, there is no need for sandwiches and trail mix and your nutrition should be based in simple carbs to fuel the quick energy boosts the race will demand. Regardless of the type of fuel and type of race, the best strategy is to fuel early and often; do not wait until you bonk to eat!
Personal Eating History.
Many races have aid stations that are stocked with nutrition. Know your race’s sponsors and options before you go into it. It is always best to carry as much of your own nutrition as possible and rely on the race’s supply only if you must. It can be disastrous when an athlete decides to drink the sport beverage offered when they’ve never used it in training. Stick with brands, combinations, and nutrition sources that you are familiar with.
Remember that you are eating to fuel performance and intense energy during a race. It is not the same as normal, day to day eating to promote general healthfulness.
- Aim for 30-90 grams of carbohydrate / hour of activity.
- Supplementing solids with beverages that have carbs and electrolytes is a smart race fueling strategy.
- Know what your body can handle. Some people do best with straight glucose while others need combinations of fructose and glucose.
- Eat often and early. Your fueling should start at the start line so you don’t end up short on energy.
- Give your body more nutrition than you think you need. Racing demands more than a typically training event.
- Consider temperature, type, duration, and intensity of your race when choosing what nutrition to bring along.
- Keep track of what you ate during the race and add that info to your race recap/ training log.
- Know what your race will have offered at aid stations, if anything.
- Know what foods may help or hurt you. Will caffeine give you a boost or just upset your stomach? Will a sport drink increase your energy or leave a gross taste in your mouth?
- Make sure you are physically able to take nutrition during a race situation.
Check out a Professional's intake Here