on eating and training and eating and racing

Today’s workout was a 3:30 bike ride. I was starting to get just a smidge hungry and I knew that it was going to be a long ride, so  I packed up some energy gels, some bars and a whole bunch of water and hit the road. Everything was good, munched on a few bars, sucked down a couple of gels en route and cruised.

Until mile 36.

I thought I was keeping up on staying hydrated and refueling electrolytes, carbs, etc. And then I totally, totally bonked. It was a good reminder to practice more – that is, practice eating and hydrating while on the move to replace what I’m burning and sweating out. You, too, should incorporate refueling into your training program. And here’s why:

  • The cardinal rule of race day? Don’t try anything new. This goes for food and drink. If you’re planning to take advantage of the food and drinks provided on the course, and especially if you’re planning on relying solely on them, you should try them out  in advance.
  • How does it taste? Do you like the flavor? For gels and chews: What’s the consistency like? Do you like it? If you don’t like it, this is good to know ahead of time. Race day, you’ll need to consume the gel and obviously this is easier to do if it doesn’t prompt a gag reflex. If you plan on And how do you manage when the gel or fluid is warm?
  • Then there is actually practicing the act of opening and eating – for example, if you’re on your bike – can you open the package it comes in without falling or crashing? Can you eat on the run (or bike)? If not, pre-open the packages. If you’re eating chomps or chews or bars, are they too big for you to chew and keep moving? Cut them in advance so they’re more manageable on race day.
  • How does your stomach feel? It can be a delicate balance. You don’t want to eat too much because your body can only digest so much while you’re on the move. And while biking, hunched over, this can be a challenge. But you also need make sure you get enough to keep fueled.
  • How are you planning on carrying everything? Do you have the right gear? A bento box for your bike? Some kind of race belt for the run? Are you used to carrying it?

If you’re looking for more:

Competitor Magazine has an article on race day fueling here: http://running.competitor.com/2012/03/nutrition/race-fueling-made-simple_8633/1

Active.com also has a useful article here: http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Fueling_for_peak_marathon_performance.htm

And of course, Runners’ World has a whole slew of articles on hydration and refueling here: http://www.runnersworld.com/topic/0,7122,s6-242-302-0-0,00.html

 

Happy training and here’s to no more bonking!

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3 thoughts on “on eating and training and eating and racing

  1. I did a 50 mile ride today and tried something different. Instead of just the sweet gels and liquids, I had boiled and mashed some sweet potato. I put it in a Ziploc sandwich bag and folded it over a small plastic spoon. Sweet potato has a very high glycemic value andand can be made a bit saltier if you wish. I’m going to experiment a bit and use some coconut milk to make it a bit creamier and possibly use both table salt as well as salt substitute which has potassium chloride so that way we’ll get some sodium and potassium in it as well. It’s an experiment in progress.

    • Interesting idea – do you take an off-bike break to eat it? I would never think to do that (I’m not usually that creative), though I am always looking for alternatives to the sweet gels and liquids… after a season of training, they all start to taste the same and I’m always tired of that taste by the end of it all. Would love to hear how the experiment goes!

      • Yes, I ate it during a break. I’d like to find some long thin plastic bags I could fill with my own mixtures. I’m tempted to by a package of those frozen ice pops (like Otetr-Pops) and refill them and seal them. This way I may be able to eat them on the fly. It’s a pretty low priority project, though.

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