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.


  1. I totally agree with you on this one Chris...I can not eat bananas or hardly anything when I am running in a Half Marathon...I generally GU around mile 5 to 6 and then hydrate at mile 5 and 8 and sometimes 10 but thats it! I agree things are different for everyone...Heck I have seen people actually eat at some of the ad stations..there is no way I could do this because of stomach reasons! BTW man I'm dying for an do I get one...let me are my new hero!!

    Mike Edenfield
    1 Timothy 1 15-17

  2. So I guess my two 1 pound bags of beef jerky is not a good place to start come race day?

    Not that I know too much about this, but I totally agree with you about testing in real conditions. I used a product that worked amazingly for me while training...perfect really. But once the intensity of a race came about, it did not work at all. Thanks for all the advice and help you have given me this season. If Oceanside goes well, I have you to thank. If it goes bad, I have me to blame :)

    Hope all is well,

  3. Mike, for a half marathon if you are properly fueled before, you should be able to get through the race without any extra calories as the human body can store 100-110 minutes of glycogen. However, if you are new to the sport, then you need to train your body to be more efficient and that takes time. Thanks for the feedback.
    Roger, your the man and you are going to have a great race out at Oceanside! I'm excited to watch you race.