Virtual Race Nutrition 101

By Alister Gardner,  2-5 min. read  

Virtual Race Nutrition 101

Ever heard of "hitting the wall"? That’s when your body’s carb reserves (glycogen) run out! It’s pretty common and why Run Ottawa partnered with us to provide XACT ENERGY bars, a tasty alternative to gels, that give you energy all the way to the finish! Here are some guidelines to help you during the race.

2-3 days pre-race

A good way to give your body a lot of fuel is carb loading. This is not about giant pasta dishes but simply about emphasizing carbs in your meals. Combined with some rest, this will build up your glycogen reserves and give you energy. It's important to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.

Race day


Stick with carbs; something light and easy on your stomach and something you know you can eat before your run. Coffee lovers: caffeine both wakes you up and stimulates the nervous system!  Sip fluids but not so much you need to stop before you’re around the block!


Energy + fluids = happy running. A gel or an XACT ENERGY bar every 45 minutes will help avoid the dreaded bonk. Be sure to have regular access to water. Adding electrolytes to water helps absorption and maintain hydration. Plan ahead:  Think how you will carry or stash your gels and bars.




30 mins before the race

XACT ENERGY with electrolytes +/- caffeine

45 mins


1 hr 30 mins

XACT ENERGY with electrolytes +/- caffeine

2 hrs


2 hrs 30 mins

XACT ENERGY with electrolytes +/- caffeine

3 hrs


3 hrs 30 mins

XACT ENERGY with electrolytes +/- caffeine

4 hrs


4 hrs 30 mins 

XACT ENERGY with electrolytes +/- caffeine


Finish line celebration 

Congratulations, you are a #RunOttawa2021 finisher! Eat a mix of carbs and protein to help get your strength back. Our XACT PROTEIN bar gives you 15g of protein to ensure a good recovery. To help re-hydration, drink 500 ml of fluids with XACT ELECTROLYTES.


Pro tips

  • Sweating is the main cause of electrolyte loss. The more hot and humid it is, the more you should aim to replace lost electrolytes. Your sports drinks and gels are the best sources!
  • Help your bars and gels go down with a mouth full of water if you can. You should be aiming for at least 500-1000ml / hr in fluid intake. More if it is hot out!
  • Mix up your energy chews. Have fun and take a variety of flavours to keep your taste buds on their toes (XACT ENERGY comes in 6 flavours: strawberry, apricot, orange, maple, e-beet and blackcurrant).
  • Caffeine is great for stimulating your central nervous system and reducing perceived effort. XACT ENERGY Blackcurrant has 50 mg and will pick you up as you start to feel worn down.
  • Scoffing a whole gel or energy bar in one go while on the run can sometimes be tough on the stomach, taking two or three small bites of an XACT ENERGY bar will do the same job and be easier for your system to manage.


Alister is an elite runner specializing in long-distance trail running as well as co-owner of XACT nutrition. 
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