Pre Race

Pre Race

Strict carbohydrate loading the night before a competition is not necessary for sprinters, due to the short time frame of the events. It is utilized more by endurance athletes, who use glycogen as a fuel source during their long distance events. With a high-carbohydrate diet already in place for training needs, glycogen levels can be restored before competition with 24-36 hours of rest or very light training.  

Night Before  


  • Carry on eating a sensible nutritional regime, similar to that followed when training, to avoid gastrointestinal upsets.


Nutritional Goals For Sprint Competitors

Although sprint events only last seconds or minutes, competition day can be a drawn out affair. A typical race day involves a number of heats and finals with variable amounts of waiting around in between.

1. Maintain blood glucose levels

  • Before competition, begin the day with a low-fibre carbohydrate based meal  
  • Ensure the athlete is all food intake familiar with to avoid stomach upset


2. Stay Hydrated  


  • Sports drink or water throughout the day  
  • See our 5 Hydration Tips to Maximise Your Performance


3. Feel comfortable

  • Experiment with food and fluid intake in training  
  • Avoid hunger but not risking the discomfort of a full stomach
  • The type of meal will depend on the timing of your event and your personal preferences. See below for examples
  • If the athlete is feeling nervous it’s still important to ensure the body is fuelled appropriately for best performance  


Example Foods

As most athletes compete in multiple events in one day, with only up to 2 hours break in between each event, it is recommended that they graze on small nutritious snack foods throughout the day.

3-4 hours before race

  • crumpets with jam or honey + flavoured milk
  • baked potato + cottage cheese filling + glass of milk
  • baked beans on toast
  • breakfast cereal with milk
  • read roll with cheese/meat filling + banana
  • fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt


1-2 hours before race

  • liquid meal supplement
  • milk shake or fruit smoothie
  • sports bars
  • breakfast cereal with milk
  • cereal bars
  • fruit-flavoured yoghurt
  • fruit


1 hour between races  

  • sports drink
  • carbohydrate gel
  • cordial
  • sports bars
  • jelly lollies

  Intake should occur straight after the event and if there is less than an hour in between each event.
 Grazing throughout the day may not satisfy each athlete’s appetite.
  Strategically choose the most appropriate time to have a larger snack or small meal, such as the longest break in between a heat.