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Coach's Column: Eating For Your Next 100 Miler

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |May 5, 2013 3:19 PM

Coach's Column with Namrita O'Dea: Nutrition Leading Into Your Next 100 Miler - What You Should Be Eating

Question: What should I eat the week before, the day before and the morning of a 100 miler race?

Answer: Not too much should change in your diet the week before a 100 miler, but there are a few key things you want to make sure you pay attention to during race week. It's a good idea to test out your pre-race dinner and breakfast as well as your during-race nutrition plan when you do your last several big training days. That is your chance to work out all the kinks and make sure everything is as simple and streamlined as possible on race weekend so you can show up to the race feeling light, fast, and confident.

NUE Serieschampion Cheryl Sornson says, "By being disciplined the week prior to a race I can forgo any need or desire to 'load up' the night before a race.  I want to keep it simple and healthy.  My main go-to is a protein in the form of meat, fresh veggies, and a potato or rice.  My favorite pre-race dinner is grilled salmon or chicken with a baked sweet potato and sautéed broccoli with onion and garlic. During the whole day I take in plenty of fluids, but the day before I should already be well hydrated from the attention I gave to it the week prior." Your pre-race dinner should be something familiar and enjoyable. 20-30 grams of protein, veggies, and a starch should make up a normal-sized meal. You can always add a small snack before turning in for the night, also.

Coach and racer Drew Edsall's favorite pre-race dinner is Pad Thai with chicken or sweet potatoes with a small serving of lean steak. "I know multiple things that work for me and I stick with those. My main focus is more on what I eat during the 4 to 5 days leading into the event, not just the night before, " he says.  

Jeremiah Bishop of Sho-Air Cannondale adds, "I eat a normal dinner; I am a fan of veggie risotto with chicken or veggie stir fry with tofu with a glass of red wine. I'll also have a little ice cream. My real carb loading is done 12-24 hours before the race when I will try to consume 400-500 grams of mainly simple carbs. Just adding some iced tea, bananas, and a bagel to my normal meals is usually enough."

Breakfast before a hundie should also be tested and familiar. You want to eat a protein-carb meal with a little fat ~2-3 hrs before the start and then add some fluid and carbs (i.e. sports drink and/or gel) in the hour leading up to the start. If you are a caffeine drinker, don't forget the caffeine on race morning! Cheryl's breakfast usually includes 1-2 eggs and 1-2 pieces of rice pecan bread that is spread with avocado. And, coffee. After breakfast, she begins to drink 20 oz of Carborocket sports drink up to the start time. Drew also drinks coffee with his breakfast, which is usually a low-glycemic carb based meal such as oatmeal or cereal. "I also tend to take in a gel or something similar when warming up prior to the race. Then, I really focus on proper calories during the race, which can make or break a 100 mile race," Drew says. Jeremiah's pre-race breakfast usually consists of a couple eggs, oats mixed with Perpetum, almonds, pumpkin seeds or flax seeds. "If it's closer to race time [within 2 hours], I will just eat toast and jam with eggs and 2 cups of coffee. One hour before the race, I drink OSMO pre-hydration."

Do not skip meals or starve yourself during the week before a big race, even if you aren't riding as much. Fuel up with enough carbohydrate and fluid before, during, and after your workouts so you are not depleted when race weekend comes around.  Don't wait until the day before to "carbo load". Carbohydrate-loading is not an excuse to overeat, you simply want to make sure you have some carbs (fruits, veggies, rice, quinoa, potatoes, oats, etc.) at most meals during the week before the race, especially in meals and snacks that come before and after workouts. I would also recommend 20-30 grams of protein in your post-workout recovery drink or meals.  Paying your daily nutrition needs just as much attention as your training and equipment will pay great dividends, especially in a 100 mile race.

Namrita is a Registered Dietitian and endurance mountain bike athlete. At 55nine Performance, she specializes in nutrition for sports performance and wellness, and coaching. Namrita holds a Masters degree in Nutrition from Georgia State University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Physiology at Georgia Institute of Technology. She also conducts clinics and camps for women cyclists and speaks at several nutrition and racing clinics in the Southeast. Namrita currently races for Team Topeak-Ergon USA. For more information and updates, visit

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Patrick Blair 04/19/2013 1:43 AM
This is great info! Eating right before an endurance race is sooo important. It has been the deciding factor for me every time.

Pace and nutrition are the 2 things you have to get right at endurance racing.
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