Thursday, June 21, 2012

Planning Ahead: Race Day Nutrition

Race day is just around the corner! Two days until my next ultra: the Eastern Divide 50k located near Blacksburg, VA and I'm getting pretty pumped! Yesterday I took some time to gather up all my gear and came to a realization: I think A LOT about food. (Though given that I've studied nutrition for 7 years now, I feel like that's pretty normal!) I've been planning ahead for this race but one thing I've been tweaking for quite a while now is how I will specifically fuel myself to get through 5+ hours of running. Running 30 miles through the mountains is not going to be easy and I'd be kidding myself to think it will be the same as running on the coastal flatlands.

Since I'll be burning upwards of 3,000 calories during this race, I'm going to need a lot of fuel to get me to the finish line. Overall my goal is to take in roughly 200 kcal/hour or about 1000 calories total. It will be difficult, especially with the heat, but I know I'll need the energy later in the race. (On a side note, check out this interesting article on training the gut for optimal nutrition with minimal GI distress during endurance competitions...that's next on my list of things to work on)

Anyway, here's a look at what I'll be utilizing nutrition-wise this weekend:
Kenya modeling my race fuel. Yes she's adorable and yes I may have had too much extra time yesterday to drag all this stuff outside.
Tapering will do that to you :)
This past year I've really invested a lot of time and energy in to tweaking my race day nutrition. In the past I took the "nutrition of the fly" approach and it lead to unpredictable results. Some races went well, and others not so well. And while I don't have my nutrition down to a science quite yet, I've learned a lot about what works well for me and have been practicing. I've started to implement some evidence-based nutritional strategies (i.e. beet juice and caffeine for performance enhancement and tart cherry juice for recovery) to hopefully boost my success come race day. Long runs or long workouts in general are a great time to simulate race day nutrition and making necessary adjustments. Everything pictured below has been thoroughly tested through a number of trials. So now you're probably thinking, what are my plans for all these items?! Here's a quick overview:


  • Race morning breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries, chia seeds and egg whites (2hrs prior)
  • Pre-race: Beet juice and an expresso gel (15-30 min prior)
  • During the race: Alternating cliff shot bloks and expresso gels (my favorite flavor!); nuun for hydration/electrolytes, a banana, a stinger waffle (because I'll want something solid and they taste amazing) and probably some more beet juice around mid-race. Aiming for 200 kcal/hour.
  • Post-race: Smoothie made with tart cherry juice, banana and chocolate protein powder (not pictured)



I've used all of these amazing foods to fuel some stellar long runs and now I can't wait to see it in action for the real deal. I don't expect my fueling strategy to be perfect, but it has certainly come a long ways. The race will be challenging as I have been training on zero elevation, but I've been looking forward to racing on my "home" turf for quite a while now! It's go time... see you soon Blacksburg!


**Please note that I am not paid or compensated in any way to promote specific products. I am simply sharing my personal preferences. At the same time, everyone's race day nutrition is different and specific and please don't assume what works well for me will automatically work well for you! Always practice your nutrition in practice- nothing new on race day!

1 comment:

  1. That was great to read about. I really need to work on my racing nutrition big time. I usually ignore that part of training! You've inspired me to pay attention. I guess it's too late for this Saturday. See you in a couple of days! You will be the first gal across that line! --Teresa

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