Fine tuning your race nutrition and hydration strategy is a key step if you want to optimize your race performance. Here are 4 things you should track in your race plan!
This may seem obvious, but actually hydrating with the proper amount of fluids is a crucial piece of your race plan! Proper hydration will help you avoid the dreaded and oftentimes dangerous consequences of dehydration and the opposite of over hydration. Dehydration at levels higher than 3% of an individual’s body weight can actually have catastrophic effects on your physiological systems, and it can lead to risk of heat illness.
The amount of ounces you should drink per hour will vary greatly between individuals and depends on your individual sweat rate, race day’s conditions, and your tolerance for fluids. In fact, individual sweat rates can range from 0.4 to 1.8 liters per hour! So, to really fine tune this piece, you will want to work 1:1 with one of our practitioners so that they can walk you through proper sweat testing and gut training!
Carbs are fuel! For exercise lasting more than 2 hours, research has shown time and time again that consuming carbs while exercising allows your body to stay fueled. The amount of carbs you will need depends on the length of your event and how much your gut can tolerate.
A huge part of this is gut training so that you can tolerate a higher amount of carbs. Gut training allows an athlete to consume more carbs and fluids, but also helps them digest and actually absorb those nutrients. Similar to fluids, this is also something you will want to fine tune with a practitioner so you can figure out how many grams of carbs per hour will give you the energy you need to perform well!
Sodium is another key piece because as you sweat, you lose many electrolytes and fluid. Electrolytes like sodium play a key role in your biomechanics and allow your physiological symptoms to continue functioning properly. To replenish this lost sodium, you will need to consume electrolytes in your sports fueling and hydration products.
The amount of sodium you will need depends on your sweat rate and sodium loss amount, in addition to factors like your race day conditions and how much your gut can tolerate. This is why general sodium guidelines provide large ranges for sodium consumption because of the large ranges of sodium loss that are observed. Studies show that athletes can lose anywhere from 0.2 grams sodium per hour to 2.3 grams sodium per hour.
Everyone knows that caffeine can give you that boost of energy you may need, but the timing of when you consume caffeine is super important. Take it too early and you may feel its effects far too early in the race when you don’t need the energy boost. Take it too late and you’ll be burned out before you feel its kick. The source of caffeine matters as well– different forms of caffeine like gums versus powders will have different absorption rates in the body. To learn more about the different forms of caffeine, check out our blog post HERE. The amount of caffeine also plays a critical role as each person has a unique tolerance for caffeine.
Things to Remember
Each of these components play a crucial role in your race plan, however, they each require careful fine tuning with the help of a practitioner. To get started working 1:1 with a Nutritional Revolution team member, click HERE!
- American College of Sports Medicine, Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(2), 377–390. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31802ca597
- Baker, L. B., Barnes, K. A., Anderson, M. L., Passe, D. H., & Stofan, J. R. (2016). Normative data for regional sweat sodium concentration and whole-body sweating rate in athletes. Journal of sports sciences, 34(4), 358–368. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2015.1055291
- Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., Hillman, S. K., Montain, S. J., Reiff, R. V., Rich, B. S., Roberts, W. O., & Stone, J. A. (2000). National athletic trainers’ association position statement: fluid replacement for athletes. Journal of athletic training, 35(2), 212–224.