Eleanor Jones takes a look at nutrition strategy for pre and post competition

All too often I have seen athletes who can’t eat due to nerves before a race or have tummy upsets that cause them to under perform. Your nutrition strategy might not win you the race, but get it wrong and it can cost you big time!

The main issues are planning and logistics – so if you’re away from home or travelling make sure you have options available to you to maximise your performance.

Week before

Now’s the time to get your personal admin finalised. Work with a sport psychologist if possible to get in control and lessen those nerves – no excuses for skipping a good pre-event breakfast!

Make sure you’re fully stocked with food and that you’re happy with what you’re going to eat on race day. It’s a good idea to trial things in training to see how you react.

Day before

Get your feet up, eat well and check the weather for tomorrow. Will it be hotter than usual? This may affect your drinking routine. The aim today is to top-up fuel stores, so choose staples like rice and pasta for main meals.


Make sure you get out of bed in plenty of time to have breakfast. Choose food items that you are familiar with – trying something new on race day is not advisable! Nervous athletes might consider liquid meals such as smoothies.

It’s also the time to reverse any overnight hydration so that you are ready for competition. Good examples for breakfast include scrambled eggs on toast, porridge or breakfast cereals for sustained energy.


Stick to your plan. Make sure you know what and when to eat as your appetite may desert you once you start warming-up. Take easy to eat foods – energy drinks, flapjacks and flavoured milk drinks have readily available energy and won’t leave you feeling bloated.


This is crucial, especially if you’re competing in multiple events or over many days. A lean meat sandwich, ready-to-drink protein option, fruit salad and yoghurt are all viable options when competing and will help to refuel and repair muscles and have you ready for the next training and competition instalment.

» Eleanor Jones is senior sport scientist at the University of Birmingham and a BASES-accredited sport scientist with an IOC diploma in sports nutrition

» This article was first published in AW in August 2013