The nutritional intake leading up to and including race morning can be troublesome for many newer athletes. Especially once you factor in the brutal heat that we are expecting. To get you well nourished and hydrated pre race I’m going to present my favorite pre Tri meal habits. Keep in mind never to over eat, your body won’t break down excessive food, instead your body will turn it into love handles.
Let’s start three dinners before the race. Many people believe in heavy carbo loading and I find it is more myth than fact. I try to keep this meal as a heavier protein night so I’m not tempted during the following days to sink my teeth into a burger. If I’m going to indulge and have a steak, this is the night.
Two nights out is my pasta night, typically with red sauce or pesto and a lean protein mixed in like shrimp. This is also when I cut back on harder to digest fats and dairy products. Don’t explore new restaurants, exotic foods, or that cool food truck parked on the street. Save those for the post race!
The night before the race avoid spicy foods, rich plates, and heavy dishes. Anything that would cause your stomach to work harder than necessary to digest the nutrients. It helps to have salad, dressing on the side, and lots of veggies (steamed or grilled is preferred as sautéed can have lots of butter so be cautious). Simple protein cooked in olive oil along with a baked or sweet potato and veggies is my favorite. I also have a glass of red wine to help take the edge off and get some rest. Keep in mind the day starts super early and you’ll want to use most of your time setting up transition and not running to the porta potty lines (yes the lines are massive at this race).
Lunches I try to follow the same outline staying away from heavy, rich, and fatty foods. Save all that good stuff for post race Sunday.
Breakfast is my favorite pre race meal to prepare. On Friday and Saturday I like to enjoy a tall stack of pancakes, preferably with bananas or blueberries mixed in! On the other day I try to have waffles. Race morning is always peanut butter on a granola bar with apple sauce on the side. Try to eat this 2+ hours before your swim start. Which for NYC Tri is easy to eat while leaving your apartment heading to race start. Walking to swim start make sure you have nutritional options in that finish line bag, gels or bars (avoid nuts). Never get hungry pre race. Have another gel and stay hydrated by sipping water or better yet a drink with electrolytes.
During the race you need to consume enough calories to replace what you burn. I have a gel religious 15 minutes before my swim start, my next gel is on the bike once on the WSH. At the turn around in van courtland I have a salt tab and a Powerbar. Finally as I pass transition heading south I’ll have my last gel so I have had enough for the run. If I’m working harder than usual I’ll have to take an additional gel near the toll booths.
Always be hydrating!!! If you get thirsty it’s to late to double back. You’ll get that sloshing stomach feeling if you take gulps at this point.
The run is a painful 10k, focus on sipping and have half a gel at the 5k point. Don’t over eat as you head out on the run.