Pre-race cyclocross nutrition

Hey all, Let’s get this party started! I know cross season is several months away, but it’s never too early to plan ahead. Many of you are training for cross season now so you should also be dialing in your pre-nutrition plan. You can play around with it now and once the season’s here you should know what works best for you! Here is what has worked for me over the years.

As far as food goes, I eat either a cup of plain oatmeal with two eggs or 3/4 cup of brown rice with two eggs about 3 hours before the start. Nothing else. For fluids, I constantly drink water leading up to the start. If it’s cold out, I drink a large cup of coffee or double espresso about 20-30 minutes before the start. If it’s warm I will drink a can of Rockstar Energy Drink - Fruit Punch about 20-30 minutes before the start. I know, I know… it sounds odd, but it works for me. It get’s me to the start line with all of my food digested and I don’t have that heavy feeling in my stomach. I have no issues with the coffee or Rockstar, but I also know I have strong stomach when it comes to food and a hard training or race effort.

What works for you?


Pretty similar for me; I don’t actually change much for race day. 3 hours before the start it’s 3 eggs, rice, and whatever green veggie I have lying around (usually broccoli or spinach). Lots of coffee. After that, water up to the gun, occasionally with a half pack of blocks about 30 minutes out. The hardest part is timing the port-o-potty visits: not too early to need them again but not too late to miss call-ups!

Tougher is eating before Wednesday worlds. They’re so early in the summer (like 6:30a). I want to get as much sleep as possible but also don’t want cram a big meal just before feeling my heart in my throat! So it’s usually a pack of blocks or banana about 30 mins out, with 1-2 espressos, and then i’ll take a snack to refuel after the hammer session just so I have energy to finish out the ride home.

Great topic and great forum!

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Long ago in a galaxy far away when Red Bull was new - I’d have a red bull 30 minutes prior to the race start. These days, I’m more clever: I bring my coffee in a stainless steel thermos and have 1/2 before my warm-up and 1/2 after my warm up before I head to the staging area. I love it on the really cold days.

One thing about caffeine pre-race, it works really well for me and I have ‘over-started’ in the past - i.e. going out too hard bc I’m too amped. Just need to tamp that down a bit and be more patient until the later laps.

For early am World’s, tho, its coffee and a banana per what we were talking about here

I’m 4 eggs with rice cake almond butter and jelly/honey 3 hours out.1 shot of espresso to get everything moving. Then 2 hours out heading to track with a big cup of coffee as I drive to course. I get in the beet juice about an 1 hour out. Get the warm up in and take a another big drink off coffee and a gel before heading to the start line. I’m like you Frank. I have to be careful with getting to amped on the coffee before a start. : )

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I stole my routine from Cody Kaiser. Was at a local race with him and he pulled out a big ole tupperware full of white rice and eggs and chowed down about 2hrs before the start. I sometimes shake it up and use sweet potatoes+beets+eggs now. Pre-make it the night before. After that I switch to gummy bears as I warm up; Haribo or the Trader Joe’s variety first ingredient is glucose. The final kicker is a 5hr energy, no carbonation and smaller volume makes it easier on the stomach for me. Take half 30–45min out and last half on my way to the start line. I have had similar experiences to what Frank has stated with being able to come out of the gates too hot and pay for it on ~lap 2. But I’m fine with that, you just have to be conscious of your effort.

Sip water the whole time leading up to the race, maybe sports drink on hot early season days. I have played around with beet juice, I feel like its a bit inconclusive on short events, but I still drink it on key race days. Figure what could it hurt? Maybe the it helps in the final laps.


I think Cody’s routine is similar to 95% of pro CX racers. Simple, clean and easy to digest.

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My race usually starts at 1:30pm so I find it tricky to fill that gap between breakfast (latest I can go is about 8am) and race. I found my breakfast is digested and I’m actually hungry about 11am! What do you fill that gap with? I usually take a gel 20 mins before the start.

Afternoon races are tougher to manage, but I still keep in simple…and somewhat boring. If I have a 1:30pm start I know I am going to eat my eggs and rice at 10:30am. I would also eat the same, yet slightly smaller, meal around 7:30am.

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I put together more thoughts on this topic for a #secrettraining blog post. Check it out: