It’s all crazy busy around here, but what’s new? Thankfully, taper week 2’s lighter workout schedule is coinciding well with some work deadlines so it feels only slightly insane. Someday, I’ll figure out how to stagger my big races with work obligations, but that is not what’s happening in this particular October 2016, my friends!
However, runs and swims and bikes are keeping me sane and smiling and taking selfies. So, there is that.
Anyhoo, it’s 10 days to Austin 70.3. I’ve done the long rides, runs, swims, and brick. I’ve practiced race pace. I’ve lifted weights to build muscle to support all the abuse. I’ve indulged in my recovery boots A LOT. I’ve eaten all the fruits and veggies and carbs and lean protein that stokes the fire (and let’s be honest, the pizza and cake and beer that ALSO fuels the workouts).
We can easily spend time badgering ourselves for things we’ve lacked in training (hello, all those missing swims where I just couldn’t drag my ass to the pool or lake), but one thing I think I’ve done right is practicing nutrition for the big day. It’s been one of my downfalls in the past, so I wanted to make sure I came into this cycle really trying to nail down what has caused me issues.
- I get soooooo sick of gels and blocks. During a long hot race, my stomach is always gross by the end and sometimes I’d rather chew razorblades at hour 5 of 6 instead of put another gel anywhere near my body.
- I die in the heat way more than the average bear. I’m pretty sure this is all electrolyte balance (at least, the component I can actually do anything about with fuel).
- I’ll convince myself that I don’t need the last gel to save money. This is total race brain. Who wouldn’t spend a buck fifty TO LITERALLY SAVE YOUR RACE YOU SPENT HUNDREDS TO ENTER?
- Sometimes I make this detailed race nutrition plan and just throw it out the window because, again, race brain. It’s almost easier for me to run than eat in the final minutes of these things.
So, we practice running, biking, and swimming. If we’re smart, we practice transitions (free speed!). This cycle, I’ve done my best to also practice nutrition and try new things. I’ve eaten something close to my pre-race meal before all my shorter races and long workouts. I’ve nailed down how to get myself up in the morning for early workouts (caff gel on my bedside, works every time). I’ve experimented with different types of fuel besides just Cyborg Boob Milk and cubes o sugar jelly (blocks). I’ve tried different types of sports drink. I’ve also experimented with how I fuel after.
I have yet to try something like this as mid-ride bike fuel with a run after, but can we all agree that this is SO much better than a gel?
So, what did this little guinea pig find out?
Don’t fuck with what works: the day before the race
- Whatever for breakfast, within reason. The normal yogurt/cereal. Sometimes a bean and cheese taco. Sometimes just a bigger and early lunch.
- Swimming in the morning the day before a race is the best. Fuck shakeout runs, they always make me feel weird. Swimming feels amazing during and makes you feel good all day. I know it’s not nutrition but hooray for swimming!
- Lunch: turkey sandwich on white (less fiber – good)
- Snacks: as I find yourself even MILDLY hungry – low fat high carb snacks like pita/hummus, pretzels, fruit (especially watermelon), maybe some jerky or nuts but mostly caaaaarbs.
- Dinner: chicken or steak, mashed potatoes or rice, and a salad. As all day, skip anything fried (save it for after the race) or spicy.
Fuck with what doesn’t work: race day
I’ve tweaked this a lot this year, but here’s what I’ve arrived at as the race day plan.
Upon waking: a caff chew or 2 and a cliff nut butter bar (~250 calories). Since I’ll probably be waking up 3+ hours before my wave goes off at 8:15 am, I don’t want to burn my energy jittering too early, but this will help me get up and not drag ass. Also, I’ve found that a little protein + fat help me stomach carbs better first thing in the morning. Regular cliff bars? Queasy. Fill it with nut butter? Happy tummy.
From waking to wave start (~150 calories): bring a disposable water bottle so I can sip sports drink and water until the race start. I’ve started so many triathlons dehydrated until I remembered this stupid simple trick. Caff gel about 30 mins before, enough time to go poop if my stomach gets wonky, and making sure it doesn’t *really* kick in until the back half of the swim. Also, electrolyte tabs. With a high of 82, it’s not AS critical as a hotter race, but I’m not taking any chances.
I’m always really ambitious with my gel packing but never follow through. I’m sure I ate one, maybe two of those tops for a 2 hour race.
Bike nutrition: English muffin with cream cheese and bacon, coconut date rolls, and a pb filled cliff bar (~500 calories solids, ~200? calories liquids). It’s a departure from the carb only existance I’ve done in other races, but I’ve trained with it and it makes my tummy and brain happy. I’ll have a few traditional gels as well in case the fit hits the shan, but I don’t plan on using them. I’ve felt so much better coming off the bike after real food.
As for liquid, it doesn’t really seem to matter what it is as long as it’s got electrolytes in it and it’s not too concentrated. I’ll start with two tanks of iced gatorade and then switch to the gatorade endurance that’s on the course, just keeping an eye on how it hits my stomach to see if I need to dilute it. I’ll also have some electrolyte tabs if it’s feeling hot.
Run nutrition: 3 gels + whatever gatorade I can shove in my face. (~300 solids, ~200? liquids). On all my bricks lately, I’ve been putting a gel in my mouth during miles .5-2. I won’t deviate from that. If I feel awful, I’ll open it and take it super slow, knowing sometimes it settles my stomach if I force it down. I haven’t had that issue in training in quite a while, so I’m hoping all goes well.
I’ve ended all my longer bricks thinking I’d need fuel soon to keep it up. So, I think the plan will be mile 1, 5, and 9 for gels. I’ve never gotten 3 gels down during the run leg, but I did during a 14 mile run this cycle. I’ve never regretted taking a gel near the end of a race, but I have regretted NOT taking one. I’ll pack two non-caff and one caff, and I’ll either take the caff at (preferably – since I’ll get the most benefit out of it) mile 1 or 5. I need to remember that I have the next day off, so if I am up late jittering, the PR will be worth it!
I will probably drop my run bag the day before (it’s optional, but will save a lot of hassle), so I’ll probably start with either an empty handheld (to fill at an aid station), or bring a warm bottle of gatorade to dump in it. One will make my run slower, one will make my transition slower. If we get great luck with the weather, I may just leave it, but it would have to be a pretty cool day for me to do that. I’ll have electrolyte tabs in my handheld and I’ll probably take some at the beginning of the run as insurance (unless I just took them on the bike).
The cravings vary, but this is a pretty frequent post race one.
I have been REALLY REALLY good about getting stuff in my face pretty quickly and not getting to the point of fading. In the past, I’ve slacked on this, either in the name of saving calories for later or just being lazy/unprepared. I feel so much better when I eat something right away, no matter what it is (though I feel the BEST when I end with the recovery shake).
When I end at home, I mix up said shake and get on acquiring or making food within the hour. When I’m not home, I’ve made it a point to end at a gas station or in proximity to somewhere I can at least get some cold coconut water and make sure I eat something quickly. At races, I’ve just been eating whatever food is available. At kerrville, the tacos were kind of yucky, but down the hatch they went anyway. The same will happen here – whatever’s available, I’ll eat it.
This will kick off a little mid-season break, so it’s not as vital as during peak, but there’s no reason for me to intentionally make myself feel shitty.
If I can stick to the plan, I’m looking at ~1600 calories down that hatch before and during the race, and I’m certain that’s the best I will have ever done. If I can follow the plan (barring major extinction level gastrointestinal events), I think I may just find myself at the finish quicker (and happier) than ever before.
Then, I can get on with the business of sipping some of this and not moving much from my couch for a week if I so choose!
What’s your most decadent post race or post workout craving? Trying to dream up what I get to put in my face for late lunch on the 30th. 🙂