Race season is upon us, folks. Do you have your race day nutrition plan in place?
As a Sport Dietitian, this is one of the areas that I commonly see athletes (of all levels) neglect. Unfortunately, this can result in your inability to meet a goal finish time, suffer a dreadful race experience, or add a DNF to your racing résumé. Who wants that? I didn’t see anyone raise their hands, so let’s review a few tips to get you thinking and planning for your race day sooner than later.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but surprisingly, they are not given adequate attention or consideration:
- Practice your race day nutrition at your anticipated race day intensities and in similar environmental conditions. For example, if you plan to run a certain pace during a particular segment of an ultra race at 10,000 feet, then you should get in some training sessions that mimic your goal pace at that elevation. See how your body feels and responds. You may realize that the energy gel you planned doesn’t sit so well, but now you have that information to practice other options.
- Be cautious to implement race day nutrition tactics from your fellow athlete friends. This is the “Well, he does XYZ with his nutrition so I should do the same XYZ with my nutrition.” I have yet to find two athletes that need the same plan or who have succeeded doing copycat nutrition. We are all unique on so many levels, so work to find your own best plan.
- Have a Plan B and a Plan C. Don’t wait until you’re in Panic Mode during the race to start thinking of a Plan B. Even a well-practiced Plan A is susceptible to failure. For example, what if you lose your nutrition? Or your crew isn’t at the aid station? Or the aid station runs out of burritos? Think and plan ahead… you won’t be sorry.
- Don’t be shy to reach out for professional guidance. Yeah, yeah – shameless plug. But really, an experienced Sport Dietitian (who is also an endurance athlete) is just a part of your support team like the massage therapist, training coach, or shoe fitter. Think of the time and money you are investing to prepare. A few consultations with the nutrition professional can go a long way in getting you to the finish line happier, healthier, and yes… maybe faster!
If you’d like some personal guidance for your racing season ahead, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I provide nutrition coaching services to athletes nationwide and offer physiological testing services through my work at eNRG Performance in Boulder and in Denver.
Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD, METS II
Board Certified Sport Dietitian