Q. I know pasta's an old favourite, but is there an obvious choice for a meal the night before a race?
A. The pre-race meal is a matter of individual choice and preference, but there are some factors to consider.
The first important point is to eat carbohydrate products that you have tried and tested during your training period. This is perhaps why people stick to pasta; it's often a regular feature in a triathlete's diet. It is also easy to prepare.
Avoid overeating the night before a big race because you may find it hard to fall asleep on a full stomach. I suggest you have your evening meal slightly earlier than usual and if you are hungry later you can have a small snack (oatcakes, for example) before bedtime.
You may find it easier to eat more at the main meal by having a variety of dishes (starter, main course and dessert), rather than tackling one large plate of food. You should know at this stage the portion sizes that suit you.
Don't eat lots of salad items and vegetables (roughage) because these may cause digestive problems on race day. So, if you do opt for pasta, use a simple sauce.
When it comes to your choice of drink, stick to water at the evening meal. Avoid coffee and tea, which contain caffeine and can therefore disrupt your sleep patterns.
If pasta is not your meal of choice you can try one of these alternatives for your pre-race main meal:
➽ Chicken with rice or potatoes and some peas
➽ Chicken with quinoa - for those of you who favour a higher protein content
➽ Baked potato with tuna
➽ Gnocchi with tomato sauce or a little pesto
➽ Salmon with rice or potatoes and some vegetables
Henrietta Bailey is a nutritionist who works as part of the Pure Sports Medicine team (puresportsmed.com). She specialises in sports nutrition and performance, obesity, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes and insulin resistance. She has worked with professional athletes and non-elites. She is a member of the Nutrition Therapy Council (NTC) and the British Association for Nutrition Therapy (BANT).