Pre-Race Meal Strategy

What & when to eat

Pre-Race Meal Strategy - What & when to eat
Everyone has heard the adage, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Whether we heed this in our daily life or not, race morning breakfast is crucial for good performance. Unfortunately, it is often ignored in the hype and excitement of the race morning.


Pre-Race Meal Strategy - What & when to eatSimply put…CARBS. A pre-race breakfast should mostly consist of carbohydrates, as this is the fuel of choice for your body and is digested the quickest. A small amount of protein will also help for long races, once carbohydrate stores are depleted. A good combination is a banana and peanut butter with some honey. If you have a sensitive stomach on race morning, look for a smoothie or juices as an alternative source of carbs.


Pre-Race Meal Strategy - What & when to eatIt’s best to have your pre-race meal 3-4 hours before starting your race. Be prepared to consume up to 1,000 calories before your race. Depending on your weight, shoot for about 1.5-1.8 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.

However, sometimes with early morning starts and the reality of life, getting up four hours before a race to fuel up is not feasible. So, the best plan of attack for an early morning start is to eat before you leave for or on the way to the race. With most races requesting that you arrive an hour before your start time, you typically have over two hours from the time you wake up until the start gun goes off. If you are eating only two hours before start time, plan on eating 1 gram of carbohydrates per body weight pound (rather than the 1.5-1.8 originally recommended), since your stomach has less time to digest.

If taking the two hour strategy, be sure to note that your during race nutrition will be more important, as you will have less energy stored in your body. Once the race starts, fuel 100-200 calories per hour to keep you from hitting the dreaded wall!


Finally, thirty minutes prior to the start of your race, you will want to take in either some sport chews or a sports gel to give your body the last boost before the race. Be sure to follow this up with 12-16 ounces of water. This will get your body prepped for the race and ready to explode off the start line.

The last piece of any nutrition or pre-race plan is…don’t try anything new on race day! Test out your food plan during a training day to see how it affects your body. It’s important to know how your body will react on race day before you get there.

That’s the dirt for this week! Next week, we show you a few primal moves to add into your warm-up.

Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter, the first professional female obstacle course racer, is a top ranked athlete in the Reebok Spartan Race series. She is also an endurance athlete specializing in ultra trail running races, a Spartan SGX Coach, and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She founded, a leading source for all things obstacle course racing and endurance sports. For more information on Margaret, her upcoming book and online coaching services.

Margaret's book "Obstacle Race Training: How to Beat any Course, Compete Like a Champion and Change Your Life" is available for PRE-SALE! Click HERE to reserve your copy.

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