Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat.

Danielle LaFata, a sports nutritionist with Athletes' Performance, in Phoenix, offers a strategy to keep you at full power through four or five all-out laps. Use this plan throughout your training so it feels natural on race day.

Apr 26, 2010
Outside Magazine

About four hours before bedtime on the night before the race, eat a balanced dinner—whole-grain carbs, lean protein, fresh vegetables. Carbs should account for about 65 percent of your calories. Two hours before sleep, have a snack like a sports bar or a banana with peanut butter.

Top off your glycogen stores the next morning with a hearty breakfast three to four hours before your first lap: two cups of oatmeal, two eggs, six ounces of yogurt, and one or two servings of fruit.

Two hours before your first lap, eat a snack of at least 200 to 300 calories, like a sports bar or a bagel and peanut butter. Don't forget hydration; in the final hour before your lap, you should consume at least 20 ounces of water. Top it off with an energy gel and sports drink 15 to 30 minutes before your start. If your first lap won't be until much later in the afternoon, have the breakfast and snack, but then eat a moderate lunch at midday—a sandwich and some fruit—and follow the timing above for snacks, fluids, and gels.

You don't usually have to worry about eating during intervals as short as your lap will be, but given the intensity of your effort and the fact that you'll be doing it again in about four hours, some carbs are a good idea. A sports bar or a couple of gels during the lap should do it. And, of course, fluids will be key. Take an electrolyte drink with you and aim for four to six ounces every 15 minutes (one gulp equals roughly one ounce).

Within 15 minutes of finishing your lap, you want to recover with a three-to-one ratio of carbs to protein. Look for a protein drink with 20 to 30 grams of protein, then get down three times as many grams of carbs. (A sports bar plus an apple will deliver this.) About an hour later, eat a small meal: a sandwich or a bit of pasta. Real food is going to settle your stomach. Hydrate, eat a gel 15 minutes before your next lap, and get ready to go again.

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