Nutrition Tips for Your Race Day

By Lisa Piropato, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC

It is close to spring season races for all the runners out there! Outside of your training plan, it is time to think about the best nutrition for peak athletic performance! Here are tips for hydration, training nutrition, and factors to consider for your race day:

General nutrition tips:

Macronutrients are very important for your muscles for building and repairing tissue and to contribute to energy levels.

  • Carbohydrates: 6-10g/kg of body weight per day
  • Protein: 1.2-1.4g/kg of body weight or 10-35% of total calories consumed daily (generally met through diet alone without supplementation)
  • Fats: 20-25% of total calories consumed daily

Hydration: goal is to prevent dehydration and should try not to drink in excess of sweat rate. Prior to exercise, drink 5-7mL/kg of body weight. During exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, consume beverages containing electrolytes and carbs 6-8%. After exercise, drink 16-24 oz for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.

Exercising and eating: Before exercise, try to eat smaller meals that are high in carbs, low in fat, and have some protein that you are able to tolerate. This has been shown to improve performance rather than performing in a fasted state. During exercise, replace your fluid and eat carbohydrates if you are exercising more than 1 hour. Afterwards, eat carbs to replace muscle glycogen for rapid recovery. Should intake about 1-1.5g/kg body weight every 2 hours for 4-6 hours after. This is better than carb loading!

Now, what about race day?! Eat foods that work best for you. Do not try a new diet or routine the morning of the race. Be sure to test this out to make sure you still feel great on your run. Sip water prior to the race to prevent OVER hydration. If you like carb-loading, then do this 2-3 days prior to the race rather than the night before.