The Taupo Cycle Challenge is just round the corner, so hopefully you have been using nutrition wisely during training. Sports nutrition is not just for elite athletes; doing some simple things well can make your big day a lot easier and help you enjoy the course as much as possible. Here some tips to think about in the lead up to the big day.
Plan your race day nutrition strategy
The Traiblazer Nutrition Golden Rule states: Never try something on race day that you haven't tried in training.
This is borne out of the fact that while clever use of nutrition can improve performance for those who have practised it, it can also be the downfall for the beginner eater/exerciser. Stomach cramps, bloating, fuzzy fingers, headaches are all symptoms of a nutrition plan gone wrong, so if you haven't been practising chowing down the gels, race day is not the time to start.
In saying that, you've possibly got one or two more opportunities to exercise before event day, so you could trial a sports drink or gel to see if they agree with you. Aim for at most 30g per hour of carbohydrates from all drinks and food that you consume.
If you have been using gels/bars/food/sports drink in training, great, but for improved performance, a formal plan is necessary. Ask yourself the following questions:
How much carbohydrate am I aiming for per hour?
Trailblazer Recommends: For the beginner eater, no more than 30g/hr. If you have been practising using food in training, more may be tolerated.
How much fluid will I be drinking, and will this be contributing to my carb intake?
Remember, if you are having sports drink, then you will be getting carbs from this as well. Nuun sponsors this event and will be at the aid stations, but does not contain carbohydrates.
Trailblazer Recommends: You should have some sort of an idea about how much you drink from training. Stick to this on event day. If you have no idea, drinking to thirst is the safest option.. As a general guide, aim to carry enough so you can drink between 500-800ml per hour. You will be on the lower side of this if you are going slower and it is a cold day. If you are planning on going fast, and it is a hot day, you will need closer to 800ml per hour (or more).
What is my goal time?
Knowing your goal time can help you work out how much food you need to take. For example, if your goal time is 6 hours, and you are going to aim for 45g of carbohydrates per hour, you will need to take 270g of carbohydrates with you.
Use "Recovery Nutrition"
Focus on recovering well after exercise. You need to replenish the fuel that you have used during that training session. Not refuelling after exercise is like your kid borrowing your car and leaving it empty of petrol before a long road trip.
Include carbohydrates (lots of 'em) as well as protein, and fruit and vegetables of course.
It's never to late to eat healthy
From now on, eat whole, healthy, unprocessed foods including plenty of fruit and veggies. These are the oil to your Formula 1 car, so load up now. And keep up this habit once you have knocked this event on the head.
Quality carbohydrates are also best. Cut down on junky carbs that come in a packet (biscuits, crackers, dried noodles, sugary treats, and muesli bars). Focus on whole foods such as potato, rice, whole grain cereals, oats, and fruit.
Be organised for event day
Plan your race day carefully so there are no surprises and you are nice and relaxed.
The night before:
Lay out your gear, and check that you have everything
Prep your breakfast so you can have this in a relaxed setting
Organise your gels and food and decide how many you will take
Fill up your drink bottles
Prepare a snack for after the event. My favourite is a pie and Speights.
Eat at least 2 hours prior to the start of your event.
Your pre-race meal should be high in carbs, and low in protein and fat.
Choose foods that you are familiar with and you have been using prior to your training sessions.
Don’t change your coffee drinking habit, if you often have coffee before training, then go for it, but otherwise don’t introduce it for the first time.
Trailblazer Recommends: Breakfast should be something that you are familiar with. If you've been training late Sunday mornings after a plate of bacon and eggs for breakfast all through training, then don't try and be good and have weetbix on race day for the first time.
Hydration: Don't overload in the morning, what goes in, must come out. Drink to thirst, and try not to drink in the last hour before the race.
Have fun! If it doesn't go to plan, remember this proverb "Whaia te iti kahurangi, Ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei". Pursue excellence, should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.
Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge Nutrition Programme - $19.95
A programme specific to the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge that covers everything that you need to know for training and event day, but is not personalised. Click here for more details.
Trailblazer Nutrition Personalised Nutrition Programme - $99.95
Skype Consultation - $150
Our experienced dietitian and endurance junkie Tom Shand will assess your nutrition needs and create a plan to achieve your goals. Whether you are after pure performance, or have complex nutritional requirements, Tom has the knowledge and experience to help you. Click here for more details.