- DO NOT eat anything you haven’t had before!!! You should never have a food adventure the day or two leading up to a race. You never know how it’s going to affect you, so stick with the tried-and-true foods you’re accustomed to.
- Your pre-race dinner meal should be about 70% carbohydrates. Remember that fruit, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables and whole grains all have carbohydrates—I’m not talking about sugar and white rice here! An example of a healthy pre-race meal for an average athlete might be: one large baked potato (try it with some salsa or a healthy spread like Smart Balance & skip the sour cream and cheese this time) with a 3 ounce chicken breast and 1 cup of carrots.
- HYDRATE!!! Don’t wait until race morning to get your body hydrated. You should monitor how much you are drinking the day before the race and shoot for at least 70 ounces (much more if you’re outside sweating). Water is the best choice; save the Gatorade for race day.
- It is best to eat at least a little before a race. You may feel nervous and nauseated, but you will perform better. It’s best if you can get it in pretty early (maybe 2 hours before, if it’s something heavy like oatmeal, but an hour before is okay for lighter fare).
- Again, your pre-race “meal” should be mostly carbohydrate with a little protein and fat included to hold you over.
- Start drinking right away!!! Have a bottle or a cup of water right next to the bed and dive in as soon as you wake up. Water is best for before the race, but feel free to indulge in some Gatorade or other sports drink if you want.
- For a sprint-distance triathlon, there isn’t much need for fueling during the race itself, especially if you started off with a healthy breakfast. Gatorade or another sports drink should be enough to help you keep your blood sugar levels up during your race.
Have fun out there!
Janet Carter, MS, RD, LD, CLS, CPT
Registered Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist and Endurance Athlete