Nutrition Requires Planning

By INFINIT Nutrition Sponsored
Nutrition Coach Joanna Chodorowska 

[Now] is a time when many athletes plan their seasons.  They pick which races they want to do, short course, long course and sometimes destination races.  The one thing typically forgotten about is the nutrition part of the race.

I had a client write to me:

I don’t think many realize when racing triathlon, that there are actually 4 events:  Swim, Bike, run and the most important NUTRITION!!

Most athletes I have worked with tend to change the aspects of training in hopes that the race season will improve.  Well, it may.  But without taking a look at your nutrition, all the training in the world is not going to get you to the finish line quickly if you’re puking your guts out or walking the marathon.  Race Day Nutrition requires planning.  Sports nutrition comes in phases

I have a package that works well with most clients called Race Day Nutrition Package – a series of 4 sessions usually 2 weeks apart.  It helps to build the foundation of your nutrition goals so you become a fat burning machine, not a carb junkie looking for the next fix.  I am not saying that carbohydrates are bad or good.  If you eat mostly carbohydrates, you become really good at burning sugar, even if you are in fat burning mode while exercising.  If you eat a more balanced meal plan which is not carbohydrate heavy, your body can be a fat burning machine.  It will burn fat even when not training.

Why is any of this important?  Because changing your nutrition is not an overnight process.  It can take a few months to convert the body from sugar burning to fat burning.  (This is phase 1 of a sports nutrition plan).  It takes time to pay attention to what signs your body is giving you.  It takes time to understand what language your body speaks to you!  I am the translator with my clients.  If you want your body to be a fat burning machine so you can be lean for your race season, you have to plan out the off-season to incorporate the diet.  December through March may be the best time to work on fat loss (not just weight loss).   Pick a 4-6 month window before your racing season begins to schedule time with a nutrition coach to help you with your body composition goals. 

Phase 2 includes more work on body composition, but now transitions to focusing on recovery meals, and matching the intake with the increase in training.  Or matching the increase in intensity if you are working on shorter course races.  This can be a 1-3 month program where you change the types of carbohydrates you use – maybe more root vegetables and less grains.  You can vary the proteins and the timing to see which work best for you.  As the training increases, the body’s needs change.  You need to learn how to optimize the nutrition accordingly.

Then 2-3 months before your event, you want to work on race day nutrition.  This is phase 3.  If you have trouble with walking in a triathlon or marathon vs running, GI distress, IBS or just feeling too tired to finish, you need to work on nutrition.  These are usually not training related or being under prepared with training.  These are symptoms of being under-trained with your nutrition.  If you are a carb-burner, you will need more sugar when you train and race.  Increase the sugar, you increase the likelihood you will have GI distress.  Yes, you can train your body to take in more, but your overall nutrition might need adjustment along with race day nutrition so you can minimize the risks of GI distress.

The last phase is specific to Race Day.  You need to train what you will eat the day before your event, the evening before and then what to eat for breakfast.  You also need to practice your race day nutrition strategy so it is dialed in perfectly.  You need to learn what your signs of dehydration are, how many calories you can take in or how little you can take in and still remain strong.  This can be 2 months to dial it in perfectly.

When planning your race season, remember your nutrition requires planning, too.  Use Winter months to convert from carb to fat burning.  Spring to work on more fat burning and adjusting intake to increased training loads.  The spring into summer is all about race day nutrition and training the race day plan until it is dialed in with recovery meals during the week, electrolyte adjustments for heat and humidity and finding out what works best for the pre-race dinner, breakfast and during racing fuel.  Don’t just plan your races, plan your nutrition, too!


Joanna K Chodorowska, BA, NC, TPTH is a sports nutrition coach helping athletes improve their performance, reaction time, and faster recovery using real foods.  Joanna provides her clients with realistic, real food options that fit into their busy lives.  As an athlete herself, Joanna understands the performance needs of other athletes.  
Among the sports nutrition coaching services which Joanna provides are Race Day Nutrition Strategy sessions and Nutrition Response Testing (NRT).


For updates on other sports nutrition programs, lectures, and events with Joanna visit 


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