11 Nutrition Tips for Obstacle Race Training

You can train hard and smart for an event like an obstacle race or traditional run, but there’s more to prepping for game day than your daily workouts.

Fueling properly for your mud run or road race is critical in order to be in peak form! The right nutrition will also ensure that you have the energy for your tougher workouts down the stretch.

So how do you have a healthy diet or eating plan for your next Tough Mudder or half-marathon?

Here are 11 rules of thumb to keep in mind.


1. Keep it light, but make it sustaining. Your pre-workout meal should be low in fat with a some carbs and protein.

Think a shake with bananas, whey protein powder, and water. Or if you’d rather have breakfast before your morning workout: a hard-boiled egg and ½ cup of oatmeal.

2. Don’t skimp on carbs, but don’t overdo it. A pre-workout meal is not the time to think about carb-cutting. You’ll need some carbs to fuel your workout.

3. Eat at least one hour before your workout. After filling up your tank with healthy fuel for your workout, the last thing you want to do is let a stomach cramp inhibit your workout. Give yourself enough time to digest. I personally prefer waiting an hour and a half to a couple hours before a workout. More than two means having to put up with an empty stomach during the workout.


Your post-workout meal could be a drink or meal. Either way, the recommended guideline for carbohydrate:protein ratio for post-workout meals is about 3 – 4:1

4. Option 1: post-workout drink. There are a lot of good options: chocolate milk has been getting some good hype lately. If you don’t like chocolate, Beachbody offers a decent orange-creme flavored formula that stirs in easily with water.

Most post-workout drinks have about 25-45 g of carbs, and you can control the quantity by adjusting the serving size – i.e. maybe one scoop instead of two or 8 oz of chocolate milk instead of 16. You can also build your own shake with protein powder, unsweetened almond milk, and about a cup or one whole fruit of your choice.

5. Option 2: a meal consisting of 2-3 servings of a carb-rich food and 1-2 servings of protein. A sandwich with lean protein & veggie fillings usually fits this bill.

6. Don’t skimp on carbs. Post-workout is not a time to think about carb-cutting, either, especially after your tough sessions.

During Workout

7. Not all workouts call for Gatorade. Brands behind workout drinks do a good job of pushing them and making you think that you need them for all your workouts. This is not the case.

For your strenuous, long bouts, it may not be a bad idea to have a watered down sports drink close by. You could also use a half serving of a recovery formula with water during an intense training session. But on a recovery day, a short run, or other less intense session, you shouldn’t need a sports drink to get you through it.

8. Choose the right workout drink for you. This can take some trial and error. Personally, I don’t like a sweet or strongly flavored workout drink, so I’ll often water down a sports drink with two or three parts water to the actual drink or powder.


9. Putting together a healthy meal for your run is a puzzle, and the right pieces are determined by your goals and where you are in your training program. If you’re a few months away from your Spartan Race or other run, and you’re looking to shed a few pounds for your race, your diet will be different from your eating plan once you’re a few weeks away from game day.

10. If you have time to lose weight before your event, earn your carb-rich meals. Leave most of your carb intake for the day for pre and post-workout meals. Try to focus your other meals on protein, vegetables, and fruits. That being said, this doesn’t mean that you have to eat salads for all your other meals.

You can steam most non-leafy vegetables. But you could also try roasting or sauteing some as well: asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, spinach, etc. You may have been a veggie hater your whole life, but who knows, you may just need to discover the right way to make it palatable for you.

11. Be sure to eat enough down the stretch. The month before your Ruckus is not the time to think about weight loss. You’ll want to focus your efforts on performance and fuel properly to get the most out of your workouts.

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