All race-day eating plans are not created equal—it depends on your distance. Here’s an overview for eating for success from racer and Boulder Nordic Sports owner Nathan Schultz.
General tip: Eat lighter and farther out from race time.
Before: 2-2.5 hours before start, eat something like oatmeal and fruit.
Details: Keep fueling leading up to the event with lighter food like a gel or a sports drink. You want slow, continuous fuel. A gel 30 minutes before the start to give you a burst of energy. Keep sugar and hydration level high w/out loading up your stomach.
During: Water bottle with sports drink or gel followed by water.
General tip: Eat closer to race time and eat more, and prepare to have continuous food before starting.
Before: Eat about an hour to 90 minutes before start, and up your intake compared to a shorter event.
Details: Eat breakfast and continue eating solid food up to the beginning of the event. For example, an oatmeal and an egg for breakfast, then a banana, then start. Stay hydrated but not over hydrated. You’ll need a liter of water per hour.
During: Feed early and frequently, before you are hungry or thirsty; every 30 minutes at least. Don’t wait for thirst or hunger; space it out stay ahead of depletion. Some people can handle liquids (sports drink) and solids (bars) during long distances.
- Never try anything on race day you haven’t done before.
- Don’t just rely on feed stations—BYO drinks/gels that you use during workouts because you know those work for you.
- Practice your feeding plan during workouts.
- Sugary drinks don’t tend to taste good at high intensity during racing, so a mild drink that you can drink more of is better.