How to: Nail Your Race-Week Nutrition

With just over a week until IRONMAN Cairns here are some quick tips for those racing, to help you nail your race-week nutrition.

NB: Of course, everyone is different and nutrition plans are very individual; these are some general tips and tricks.

The Golden Rule –

Don’t Try Anything New Leading into Race Day!

The aim of race-week nutrition is getting to the start line well fuelled, hydrated and rearing to go! You want to be in the best shape possible!


Typically, two to three days out from the race, your aim will be to up your intake of carbohydrates. This is to make sure your glycogen stores (aka your fuel stores) are full so you’re ready to go on race morning!

BUT don’t go overboard here as are glycogen stores are not bottomless pits.

NB: “Carbohydrates store water with them so upping your intake of carbs might leave you feeling bloated and heavy. The aim is to strike a balance between fueling yet feeling good.” – Simone Austin, Advanced Sports Dietitian, Eat Like An Athlete – Boost Your Performance And Energy Through Nutrition


As race day gets closer, consider reducing your intake of fibre. High fibre foods are digested more slowly, can leave you feeling really full (particularly when trying to up your carb intake to load the fuel stores) and can lead to gut issues at the start of the race.

Opt for lower fibre food options leading into the race.

For those with gut issues during a race, it might be worth considering switching to low FODMAP options leading in. Speak with a dietitian about this one!

Fatty Food

Avoid eating too many fatty-foods (aka a big bowl of fried, fatty chips) leading into the race. Some fat is ok (e.g. some avocado with your breakfast) but a lot may cause issues. Fatty foods are typically slow/hard to digest and can leave you feeling tired. Plus, they may also lead to gut issues so best to limit these leading into a race.


Leading into a big race is not the time to forget your fluid! You want to start your race well hydrated. But again, you don’t need to go overboard with this one as you may find you’re spending your pre-race days running to and from the toilet!

  • Sip on fluids across each day
  • Alternate between water and electrolytes/sports drinks
  • Sports drinks that contain carbs (e.g. Gatorade) can help with carb intake while also aiding hydration
  • Use your pee colour as a guide of hydration status (we’re aiming for lemonade here!)

Familiar is Best

Eat food you’re familiar with (that you know you can tolerate) – race week is NOT the time to be trying anything new.

Do your Research

If you’re travelling or if you’ve never been to Cairns do your research and find out what food options are available and where the supermarket (Coles/Woolies/Aldi etc.) is.

If you’re an IRONMAN veteran, what are some of your nutrition go-to’s during race week? I’d love to hear from you!

In my next post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks on nailing race day!

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