Race day is fast approaching for me. I am racing the Toyota US Open Championships (goals coming out on Friday) on Sunday and then the last triathlon of the season at 70.3 Austin on October 23, 2012.
Making sure that you are properly fueled for race day, regardless of distance, is extremely important. I treat every training day as if it were a race day because I don’t want to wake my body up at 3am that day for the first time. I believe that if I can train my body to understand that food is coming at 3a-330a than on race day it is just like any other day.
My typical morning starts with the alarm going off around 2:50am and going to brush my teeth and heading toward the kitchen. Previously I had been eating rice cakes with nut butter, sliced banana, honey and some pumpkin spice. After writing a post about a month ago about sleep one of the comments I received was that I should consume liquid calories if I was going to get up that early. The comment was meant to help save me some sleep time, but I treated it as a way to still get up early, consume my smoothie and allow my body to not only process the food but to also allow it to use the energy that was created from that food.
Today my breakfast is a smoothie made with Herbalife 24 Formula 1 Sport, 1 banana, 2 strawberries, crushed ice and water. I sometimes make this the night before so I don’t wake the entire house and also because I know that it is going to be a long night because of football (so Sunday night and Monday night this happens.) I also have 6-8 oz of coffee and 8-16oz of water. I am then able to go out around 5am and start training.
This change to liquid breakfasts has had a very good effect on my body and energy levels. Since I began this process I have trimmed down about 5 pounds and have been able to hold my body weight at a steady 140 lbs, which I had previously believed to be a good racing weight. I also have much more energy during my training sessions that I have not witnessed before. My speed has improved quite a bit and I believe it is because my body is not trying to process food while simultaneously putting for energy to complete the session.
Last Friday I was reading a favorite blog of mine, Charisa Wernick, and the title of her post that day was Ironman Race Day Nutrition. It completely caught my eye and had me engrossed from the beginning but what truly grabbed me was the portion about breakfast. I am going to put Charisa’s words in this post, but be sure to click on the link above to read the entire post and then make sure you follow her as well.
Here are Charisa’s words:
I typically eat breakfast 3 hours before the race starts. This usually means an ungodly hour to wake up, but I like my breakfast to be digested before I set out sprinting in the water when the gun fires. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, a banana and one piece of bread with butter. I never drink coffee before I ride at home, so I don’t drink it before I race.
The first item that I want to point out to you is in regards to the jobs that Mr Fitzgerald points out the early morning breakfast has to do. Matt points out the jobs in the following manner: The pre-triathlon meal is important. It has a couple of important jobs to do. The first job is bringing your liver glycogen stores and blood glucose concentration up to top levels. During the night your body’s precious carbohydrate fuel stores are reduced by your nervous system, which runs on glucose. Therefore when you wake up after the overnight fast your liver glycogen stores and blood glucose concentration have been brought down to levels that are less than optimal for finishing a triathlon. But a high-carbohydrate meal can restore those fuel reserves in a jiffy.When you wake up in the morning your body is also not in the ideal hormonal state for racing. In Hardwired for Fitness, authors Robert Portman and John Ivy point out that, first thing in the morning, before breakfast, large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol are flowing through the body. A high-carbohydrate meal brings cortisol levels down and releases insulin, the fuel-injection hormone that delivers carbs to working muscles during a triathlon.
As the piece goes on there is a point about waking up to eat then going back to sleep after eating, but that some athletes have pre-race stress and can not fall back asleep. I can say I have never had this problem as this is the exact strategy that I employ. I believe that I am capable of falling back asleep on race day is because I do exactly that during training. Again, I don’t want to do something new on race day so practice all of these items and on race day it will be nothing more than another day. I am also confident in my abilities, in my coaches training plan and thus I have no reason to stay awake. I tell anybody who races that if they trained they don’t need luck. Luck is for those who have not put in the countless hours of training. Since I have trained hard then I don’t need to be awake worrying about whether or not I can hit my goal times or complete the distance.
Breakfast, as your mother said, is the most important meal of the day but especially true if you are an endurance athlete.
When do you eat breakfast?
What do you eat for breakfast during training and on race day?