Eating to race your best
The League season is in full swing with two races down and two to go. Have you dialed in what to eat in order to feel your best on the bike? Now is a great time to revisit race day nutrition.
Start your day right
Let’s start with pre-race nutrition. It is so important on race day to kick off your morning with a nutrient-packed breakfast. Try to eat shortly after you wake up, and pack your meal with carbohydrates to stoke your energy for the day. Good ideas for breakfast are oatmeal with raisins, bagels, pancakes or waffles, or yogurt with granola. It’s important to eat foods that settle well with your stomach; foods you are used to eating. Make sure to also drink a big glass of water or sports drink to start the day off hydrated well.
Within 2-3 hours of your race start time, eat your last pre-race meal. If your race is early, breakfast may be your only meal before your race, and that’s okay, but you need to eat at least 2-3 hours before your race to allow time for proper digestion before you push your body to race effort. Same goes for hydration–make sure that you are consuming 8-12 oz of fluid each hour before your race start.
Right before you line up
About 15 minutes before your race start, you should get in one last bite of carbohydrates (simple sugars) like a gel, blocks, etc. This will top off your energy tank.
During the race
During the race, you probably won’t be able to eat and drink very much, because of the terrain and the hard race effort. But getting in hydration and carbohydrates is ideal to keep your energy up.
Fueling your recovery
As soon as your race ends, the 30-minute clock starts for getting some more simple sugars into your body. If you can do this within 30 minutes, it helps speed up your muscle recovery. After that, you can start to take in more complex carbohydrates like bread, grains, fats and proteins. Recovery drinks are great post-race because they are formulated with the right amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that your body needs to recover after exercise.
Remember to keep drinking fluids all day. If you focus on your race day nutrition you will recover faster and be ready for another day of racing or training.
Coach Kristi Berg has been racing bicycles in various disciplines since 1994: Road (Cat 2), Cyclocross (Elite), BMX (expert in 20″) and MTB (professional downhill, crosscountry, and dual slalom). She enjoys coaching and sharing all she has learned through riding and racing, and is committed to giving back to her cycling community. Kristi is a Level 2 USAC Cycling Coach and owner of Berg’s Coaching Services. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.