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The Best Foods for Race Morning

Pre-event meals should consist of foods that are easily digestible such as carbohydrates and fluids. My top picks include white toast, saltine crackers, low fiber cereals such as Special K or Corn Flakes, white rice, bananas, eggs, sweet potato, chicken, salmon, jello, and my favorite- applesauce.

According to Ironman University, this is how it is broken down in the hours before your swim start on race day:

3-4 hours before: Nothing out of the ordinary with easy to digest carbohydrates. This meal can be broken up into 2 small meals. For example, white toast with jelly, corn flakes with almond milk or sweet potatoes and applesauce.

60-90 minutes before: Only liquid or semi solid fuel sources such as gels, chews, or sports drinks. This is because there isn’t much time for solid foods to digest and you don’t want to run the risk of gastrointestinal upset.

Within 1 hour of race start: No more than 30g of carbs.

25-20 min before race start: I always tell my athletes to bring a gel or gu to the start of the race. It is fine to sip a sports drink during this time as well.

What to avoid: high fiber foods and gas forming foods such as legumes, onions, cabbage, and high fiber cereals. These can cause intestinal discomfort.

If you’re like me, you crave peanut butter or almond butter on a bagel. I would advise that you eat a small amount of this at least 3 hours before the race start. Protein takes a while for the body to break down and you don’t want too much protein moving through your gut during the race. Rule of thumb: keep things simple with little fiber and protein and lots of easily digestible carbs.

Have you thought about a coach for your next iron distance event? Click the purple button below and fill out the form for a FREE 15 min chat with me about your race goals.

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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