Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Day Nutrition

There is an overload of information and claims out there about proper race day nutrition. I have a very strong opinion on this topic. I completely understand that research shows that consuming fructose while exercising can improve performance. However, we all have unique digestive systems and just like anything else in life, one size does not fit all.
As I work with athletes and constantly try to dial in my own race day nutrition, I am constantly reminded how individually specific racing nutrition is. The simple truth is that what might work for Joe is not necessarily going to work for Jane. I, personally, have an extremely hard time taking any sugar while racing. I've found that it causes me extreme G.I. distress. I've tried everything and even bought into the idea of trying to train the gut to digest it while racing. However, I continue to struggle with the symptoms during longer (over 4 hours of racing) events.
If one is going to compete in races up to the 1/2 Ironman distance and above, then one needs to be practicing and testing their race day nutrition strategy frequently. This is so critical. You could be in the best physical shape of your life, but if you run into nutrition issues while racing, then all the fitness in the world will not get you to your potential results.
To summarize: develop a gameplan, practice that gameplan, and have a back-up plan in case things do not go as planned on race day. Try to simulate the conditions of your goal race while practicing your nutrition strategy. Enjoy the journey.