Pre-Race Nutrition by Ryan Atkins

Ryan Atkins running up a hill

Pre-Race nutrition:

The way you approach your nutrition during the lead up to the race can be as important as your training. By this I mean that you can give yourself an edge, you can maintain your baseline, or you can completely mess yourself up.

My recipe for pre-race fueling includes eating very healthy from the Monday to Thursday before the race. This usually means either eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, a collagen-whey protein smoothie for lunch  (with coconut milk and frozen berries), maybe a veggie wrap for a snack and then a veggie filled dinner with some good carbs and lean protein. I don't try to limit the amount of food I eat, but I also try to eat a reasonable amount.

I only race with Maple Syrup for fuel...

On Thursday I usually have an easy training day. This will coincide with consciously easing up on my diet. If I'm hungry, I'll have more carbs, or a chocolate chip cookie or something else that makes sure that i'm leaning to the side of over-fueled, instead of under-fueled. I don't go crazy, but I probably eat 300-500 extra calories on this day.

I do a similar thing for Friday, except around 1pm, I start to focus exclusively on foods that I digest really well. I'll stay away from salads, excessive amounts of vegetables or fruit and just have a bit more easy to digest carbs. For dinner on Friday, its mostly carbs, with a bit of protein and veggies only for taste. The reason I do this, is that eating any vegetables or fruit isn't going to help me race. In 12 hours, the slow-digesting nature of extra fibrous food will just be in my gut. The same goes for meats, so I just make sure to limit my intake. I drink a serving of BeetElite around 4pm and 8pm I go to bed satiated, but not full.

Race Day: 

Usually I wake up at 5am on race morning and eat a bowl of oatmeal or white rice, with almond butter and coconut oil. Then coffee and BeetElite. Around 6:45 i'll have 1/2 a banana and 1/2 serving of BeetElite. At 7am i'll eat a gel, and sip on some water. Then its off to the race start at 7:30am! I only race with Maple Syrup for fuel. I find its delicious and works better than the stodgy gels from Clif, GU or any of those other companies. 

Also in News

Benefits of running in the sand
Benefits of running in the sand

Running in sand can feel very slow and awkward. How can you become more efficient?
Taper Week
Taper Week

After working hard for weeks or months a small break is likely welcome, especially when a little extra rest is key to a great performance on race day. All gain, no pain!
Get to Know: Cole DeRosa
Get to Know: Cole DeRosa

I am very proud to have had the opportunity and given the ultimate responsibility to lead a group of infantrymen in combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In my opinion, there is no greater honor.