What should I be eating throughout the day to make sure I have enough energy to last me until the end of a late meet? - nikerunning.com
Coach Jay - This track season, most of my meets have been held after school or at
night. A lot of times, I’m running in multiple events, too. What should I be eating
throughout the day to make sure I have enough energy to last me until the end of a
late meet? Is it ok to eat between events?
Thanks for the question Jack. This is such an important thing to learn as a track and field athlete, but it's also an element of competition that is highly individual. So, to illustrate this point, let's look at the discus thrower vs. the miler; one of them moves for a handful of seconds, while the other runs hard for four to six minutes. I've seen serious throwers eat in between flights of the shot put. Conversely, I've never seen a miler consume food within 60 minutes of their race as most milers would eat their last snack three or four hours out from the race. Consumption of water and/or sports drinks is different; some runners can tolerate sipping on a fairly viscous, sugary sports drink right up until race time, while others feel uncomfortable or get cramps if they drink only water within 90 minutes of the race. As you can see, the timing is quite individual, but there are norms between event areas.
Some other thoughts - if you're running multiple events and they are just thirty or forty minutes apart, any food you consume after the first event will not help you fuel the second event. But, if you're at a big invitational and you compete at 9 am, then don't compete again until 4 pm, you're going to need to eat and you should be mindful of what you're eating. Now, at this point we're out of my expertise - I'm not a nutritionist - but I do know that the meal won't make you compete well in event number two as much as your fitness and readiness to compete, so just eat enough to take care of your hunger and don't over-think this. That said, my suggestion is to eat something you like, something that has a nice balance of carbs, protein and fat. Again, don't over-think this. If you eat the same thing at the meet that you eat at lunch and you have the same amount of time to digest it then you'll be fine.
Final thought is to use the school day to practice this, making sure that before tough workouts you've planned out your lunch. You might find that you can handle a roast beef sandwich, or you might find you feel heavy with all that meat in your gut. Experiment throughout the school year and by the time you get to the championship season you'll have this aspect of competition dialed in.
Good luck Jack and thanks for the question.
*Coach Jay's advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.