Race Day Nutrition - Before, During and After

You wouldn’t try a new swim stroke on race day, so certainly do not try new foods on race day either.

The Port to Pub is rapidly approaching so now is the time to start thinking about the foods you’ll be trying the days before, the night before, the morning of and during the iconic swim.

Race Week

  • Don’t change your diet dramatically in the week leading up to race day.
  • Try to get more sleep throughout the week rather than relying on the night before (and stressing about it).
  • Race week is not a time to diet and deplete glycogen stores.
  • Carbo-loading isn’t fat loading.
  • 2-3 days before the race, the majority of your meals should be derived from carbohydrates. Think bread/rice/pasta/cereal/starchy veg etc with a small amount of protein/veg.
  • Don’t overdo the fibre, you have permission to have white bread, cereals, pasta etc. this will decrease the residual load in your gut and thus the chance of stomach upset on race day.
  • Sugary drinks/foods are ok..... in the carbo-load..... as they don’t have a residual load on the gut and easily top up glycogen stores.
  • Have a dinner plan the night before, stick to your normal pre-race ritual/routine, stick up for yourself and don’t go out for dinner or eat a meal that you haven’t tried pre-race beforehand.

Race Morning

  • Eat a light breakfast rich in carbohydrates >2-3 hours before the guns goes off.
    • KEEP IT SIMPLE, limit protein/fat as this is harder to digest.
    • But only have what you have trialed in training
  • OPEN YOUR BOWELS as often as you can pre-race.
  • If coffee/tea is part of your routine, GREAT, caffeine liberates your fat stores for fuel, decreases the perception of pain and improves performance.

Race Plan

  • Have a race nutrition plan that you have trialed consistently in training eg: gels, solids, electrolytes and water.
  • Sip a sports electrolyte/carbohydrate blend to keep you fueled all day long.
  • Know what times you’ll be stopping for fuel (if solo) or know what foods you’ll be munching on in between swims (duo/teams).
    • Again, trial the type of foods you think you’ll have on race day in your upcoming LONG training swims.
    • Think gels, simple sandwiches, muesli bars, fruit, rice bars, wraps, sports drink etc.
  • Relax and bring the heart rate down as much as possible pre-ingestion as this will aid digestion.
  • COMMUNICATE effectively with your support crew and ensure they know you fueling strategies as well.
  • Being in the water all morning is a LONG TIME. Therefore, it is beneficial to have hot drinks handy to keep you warm internally eg: hot Milo/Sustagen, hot sugary/honey tea even hot sports drink etc.


  • Post-race, have something ASAP.
  • Chocolate milk, milk of choice with Milo/Sustagen or a CHO/Protein-based supplement is easy to digest and also assist hydration.
  • Respect the distance, keep grazing on fuel throughout the rest of the day to refuel glycogen stores and repair muscle fibres.
  • Enjoy the pub! It’s a special moment to savour having a beer/wine knowing you have swum from the Port to the Pub, but PLEASE, stay well hydrated with plenty of water and refuel adequately with a pub meal or two post-race and drink responsibly.
Feb 14 2019 - 10:15am