How To Fuel A Cross Country or Trail Running Event

You’ve completed the training and all the hard work has been put in. Now it’s time to give yourself the very best chance to be at your optimal on the day of your cross-country or trail event.

Whether its 5km or 20km you need to fuel accordingly. Cross country season is typically in the winter months so is often cold, wet, and muddy, but that’s the part that makes it fun and challenging! With this in mind its more important than ever to keep energy stores high as your body will use more energy to warm your muscles up and maintain.

The longer your event, the more energy your body will need. The general rule is to try and take onboard 60-80g of carbs per hour. For the events that last up to an hour this fuel can be taken on pre-race, in the form of gels and energy drink.

For events over an hour in duration we would suggest taking on a gel mid race, even if at the time you don’t think you need it, take it! You will be glad of it towards the end of the race. Our Super gels are the perfect ‘mid-way’ gel for races lasting between 60-90 minutes as they contain 40g of carbs, getting more energy per sip compared to our standard range. The perfect gel for when the window for energy intake is limited. However, if while you’re running you prefer something a little more liquid in consistency any of our standard range gels tick this box and have 20g of carbs per gel.


How To Fuel A Cross Country or Trail Running Event — OTE Sports
How To Fuel A Cross Country or Trail Running Event — OTE Sports

If you are challenging yourself to a longer race lasting over 90 minutes, taking on a gel roughly every 35-40 minutes will mean you are keeping on top on your energy stores, so you never experience an energy dip or low.

Whatever nutrition strategy you go with you should always practise on several training runs pre-race to get your body used to taking on fuel while running.  The trick is to take your time, sip the gels over a minute or two so you don’t affect your breathing rhythm too much.

How To Fuel A Cross Country or Trail Running Event — OTE Sports


Energy bars that are high in carbs and easy to digest are the go-to as the last form of food before stepping on the start line. This high carb snack will keep your energy stores elevated  pre-race but not leave you with a heavy stomach. Our Duo Bars or Anytime Bars are the perfect pre-race option as they have been designed to be light on your stomach and easy to digest, but also giving you lots of energy in the form of 40g of carbs. Everyone is different and can tolerate eating food at different times before exercise but trying to have this snack bar between 60-120 mins before your event would set you up well. Again, this is something that can be practiced within your training, giving you the confidence on event day that all will be well.

For the shorter races, anything up to an hour, a pre-race energy gel is the best way at getting in easy digestible energy just before you step onto the start line. Taking this 15-20 minutes before the start will give your body enough time to digest and utilise it best.

To really get yourself up for that gun going off why not have a caffeine gel, our ‘Rocket Fuel’ option contains 100mg of caffeine along with that all important 20g of carbs.

For those that struggle to eat before an event, sipping our Super Carbs energy drink for the 2-3 hours leading up to the start of your event can be a great way to get in the carbohydrates but without the pressure of actually eating.

How To Fuel A Cross Country or Trail Running Event — OTE Sports

Post Event

Once the race has finish you will be on a sporting high! But don’t let this distract you from refuelling your body post-race. Our Anytime protein range is purely just a protein top up so would be a great option for the shorter races that have fatigued your muscles but not necessarily burnt lots of energy. We also have a Vegan protein option in this range that gives you 21g of plant protein per serving.

For the longer tougher races, reach for our Chocolate Soya or whey-casein recovery drink. These contain the essential amino acids the help your muscles repair, but with added carbohydrates help you refuel. That’s what makes these the ‘all-rounder protein recovery drinks’ as you are also getting the replenishment of energy lost from the race. It has also been proven that protein is better absorbed when taken on with carbohydrates.

All of our protein drinks can be mixed with water or milk, so great for when you are out and about with only water available. For maximum recovery effects take on-board 20 minutes post event. We also have our Anytime Protein bars that are a great post-race snack, containing 11g of plant-based proteins. Coming in two delicious flavours of Mint Chocolate or Salted Caramel, perfect for that post race sweet fix!