Cyclocross Basics: Race Day Nutrition
Here’s another frequently asked cyclocross question: What the heck do I eat on race day and when do I eat it?
This is something that you have to play with a little to find out what works for your specific body, but there are a few general guidelines that will help:
- Your last full meal should be consumed about 3 hours before your race (any closer and you’ll still be digesting when the gun goes off which doesn’t feel so nice, believe me.)
- Take in some kind of synthetic or easily digestible carbs in the hour prior to your race. This is one of the pieces that can be pretty personal. See my pre-race schedule below for examples.
- Eat something for recovery as soon as possible after your race. Ideally, this would be a recovery drink within 15 minutes followed by some real food. It can be very uncomfortable to eat after a race, but I’m pretty diligent about choking it down – I find it really makes a difference for how I feel later that night and also for recovery from the effort.
What It Looks Like For Me
I usually race at 2:00pm and this is what I do:
7:00am: Steel cut oats, 1 egg, spinach.
11:00am: Either PBJ or Oatmeal with brown sugar and dates (if the Bob’s Red Mill crew is out at the race serving it up free!)
1:00pm-2:00pm: Three Clif Shots or a Gu + about a half bottle of water max (100-ish easily digestible calories) while I am on the trainer. Many recommend sipping a calorie/electrolyte drink during this time instead of water, but I have found that it consistently comes back to haunt me. Right at 1:00pm I usually also take some Sport Legs (these work better for me than Hammer’s version, but you have to figure that out for yourself) and wash them back with a Red Bull.
On the line: As long as my stomach’s ok, I’ll eat another Gu or a couple shot blocks on the line before the gun. I keep this little pre-race hit tucked into the leg of my skinsuit. If someone’s around with a water bottle, I’ll have a little splash and then… GO TIME!
Post-race: After I stop vomiting (only sort of kidding), I drink water and try to drink a recovery drink within 15 minutes. Something like Hammer Recoverite works fine. After I clean up and change clothes, I’ll knock off a PBJ or maybe a turkey burker if the Portland Velo grill is roaring.
At home: Another complete meal with good carbs (yams, bulgur wheat, soba noodles are some of my faves), lean protein and vegetables.