The start makes all the difference.
The start makes all the difference.

Between the nerves and the early start times, it can be easy to skimp on food and miss out on getting the right nutrition before a race. For the sake of your performance and your health, ensuring that you get the right pre-race nutrition is a must. Use the following tips to help enhance your performance when getting ready for your next race or triathlon.


Muscles only store the small amount of glycogen they need to support basic exercise, so anytime you’re planning to workout at a much higher intensity for an extended period of time; you need to load up on carbs to keep your muscles from getting too fatigued.

The Mayo Clinic suggests starting your carb-loading approximately a week before the event by consuming 50 to 55 percent of your calories in carbs and upping to 70 percent three or four days before the big day.

Though grains, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables are the way to go; you can add some of your usual “off-limits” foods the day before the race to help get your carbs up, such as white bread and pretzels.

Don’t forget to get in some lean protein too since protein helps to repair muscles.

Breakfast of Champions

Though normally one imagines a heaping plate of bacon and eggs as the traditional “breakfast of champions,” what we’re talking about here is getting the right breakfast at the right time.

The Ironman website recommends eating your breakfast 3.5 hours before your start time—even if that means getting up to eat at 3AM!

Depending on your size, your breakfast should be low in fat and fiber and contain between 110 to 180 grams of carbs.

The Right Amount of Caffeine

Though there’s always the worry that caffeine before or during a race will lead to the need for more pit stops along the way, research has shown that the right amount of caffeine can improve your performance.

If you’re not a regular coffee drinker, then starting on race day is not the way to go since everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. Experiment in the weeks before if you really want to add caffeine to your training regime.Studies have found that getting three to nine milligrams per kilogram of your body weight approximately an hour before your event produces the best results.

Consider skipping the coffee and instead getting your caffeine from sources like diet cola, or nutritional supplements since a cup of coffee has been known to help get the bowels moving—great any other day but not on race day!


Along with these tips, you should also do your best to stay hydrated when training for your event as well as during.

Water is usually the best choice, race day requires something more so you get the energy you need while avoiding a sloshy stomach from lowered sodium levels during the race. Sports drinks are your best bet and don’t forget to replenish your sodium with appropriate supplements during the event.

You can learn more about performance enhancement and more here.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook at