Race Day Nutrition – Sprint

Our bodies can hold around 2000 kcal of energy stored in the muscles and liver for use during higher intensities. How quickly we get through that energy store during a race is down to several factors such as body weight, the intensity of exercise, efficiency and environmental factors such as weather and even the course profile.

Most people can probably complete 90 – 120 minutes of exercise without the need to take on fuel on the go. For shorter races, there’s less emphasis to fuel mid-race other than to keep hydrated or just to keep blood sugar levels topped up towards the end of a race to prevent a dip in performance. During a sprint distance race, we could all complete most of the race on the food that we’ve consumed in the days and the morning leading up to a race. So, make this the key focus of your preparation the week before a race to ensure you’re suitably hydrated and are consistent with your diet and nutrient intake, and plan minimal mid-race nutrition.


  • Consistent food & water intake, balanced protein, fat & carbohydrate levels.
  • Avoid too much fibre the day before, avoid alcohol to improve sleep quality & hydration levels.
  • Avoid too much fibre the day before, avoid alcohol to improve sleep quality & hydration levels.


  • Consume a simple breakfast that you know you can digest well and have used well in training around 3 hours before your race start


  • Stay hydrated, particularly if it’s a warm day, but don’t drink too much or you’ll be taking an unscheduled mid-race pit stop.


  • Swim – No nutritional intake during the swim.
  • Bike – A small bottle of water or electrolyte* or energy* drink on the bike to sip as needed (there are no aid stations on the bike course)
  • Run – If it’s a particularly hot day you may want a sip of water on the run, and you will be able to get water at the aid stations during the run. Check the course map to know where these are on race day. (Optional – You could take on an energy gel* early into the run to maintain blood sugar levels).


  • Consume water/electrolytes as required and aim to have a small meal within a couple of hours. If consuming energy products for the race, be sure to have tested these in training prior to race day to know how they affect your body!

*Referenced above

Electrolyte drinks – these are low in calories and don’t provide an energy source. They contain minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium & sodium that you expel when you sweat and are a good way to help you maintain hydration. If you are someone that suffers from cramping muscles when training, you may find an electrolyte drink might help prevent this.

Sports energy drinks – A sports specific energy drink contains electrolytes and carbohydrates (in the form of different types of sugars) they help absorption and hydration as well as providing energy. Remember your body takes time to absorb this energy so there is no point taking it at the end of your race.

Energy gels – Like a sports energy drink these contain carbohydrate and electrolytes, however, the concentrated gel form means you can consume the energy quicker in a smaller volume, compared to the amount of fluid you would need to consume in energy drink form to get the same amount. Energy gels can take some getting use to the taste due to their concentrated nature – experiment with flavours and brands to find one you can stomach.

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