This past weekend I traveled with my boyfriend Rob for a 33k (20.5mile) trail race just outside of Austin Texas.
The race was only 2 hours away, but with an early morning start I knew we would get the best sleep, and experience the least amount of stress, if we traveled a day early. We made a weekend out of it, exploring the area and relaxing in our lakeside cottage before crushing our bodies in rocky terrain for over 3 hours.
Despite the convenience of traveling a couple days before the race, being away from home brings a new challenge to fueling appropriately before a race.
I follow a gluten free diet for medical purposes and I could not find any restaurants in the area that would meet my need. On top of that, I wanted to carb-load which takes some nutritional planning. And though its a rare occurrence, the thought of potential food poisoning from a restaurant the day before a race was too much to risk.
The solution to these concerns was to avoid restaurant food as much as possible and pack my own fuel!
This particular area of Texas was full of small cottages for rent which was ideal for cooking my own food. I packed one Yeti cooler of refrigerated items and 1 bag of non-perishables in preparation.
However, if you are not so fortunate to have a small kitchen when you travel, rest assured you can cook a lot in a hotel using microwaves, rice cookers, or pressure cookers that easily plug into outlets. And if you need more refrigeration room, most hotel staff are happy to accommodate by storing your food in their kitchen or providing a second mini-fridge for your room. All you have to do is ask! (However I do recommend calling ahead to inquire before booking!)
Depending on how long you are traveling, there are also are plenty of carb-loading foods that require minimal cooking including cereal, rice cakes, bananas, fruit juices, sports beverages, dried fruit, and more!
If you are curious about how to plan your fuel for an upcoming race, or why and how to carb-load, check out my RACE DAY FUELING GUIDE which gives you step by step instruction on how to fuel for your next race! It's packed with information on hydration, carb-loading, and even some recommended pit-stops when eating at chain restaurants.
(This fueling guide is ideal for those running a half marathon to marathon distance. No matter your experience level, this guide clarifies many common nutrition questions. However if you are new to running, this information will be a game-changer! There's no need to "learn by mistake" when you have this guide in hand!)
And on top of all that amazing information, I'm going to share with you exactly what I did to fuel for my 33k race, even though I was not in the comfort of my own home. This is a picture-by-picture log of what I ate:
(Day 1 of Carb Loading)
This was a normal day at home for me with a "date night" for dinner in the evening. I didn't track my carbohydrate intake specifically, though I have in the past. But all meals had a strong emphasis on carbohydrates:
(Day 2 of Carb Loading, Day 1 of Travel)
The day involved scrambling to pack and drop off our dog with some friends, driving, going to the pre-race packet pick up and athlete meeting, checking into the cottage, and going to dinner. Despite mentioning that I didn't want to rely on restaurant food, I did find one restaurant in town that I wanted to try. It had historic relevance and I thought one restaurant would be a nice treat. Sadly, I didn't take pictures. What was I thinking?!
Once again, I forgot to take a picture of my dinner. But I did out go to the restaurant as mentioned and got a 5oz sirloin with a baked potato, sour cream, chives, and cheddar cheese as toppings, as well as a side of cooked carrots, and an extra side of broccoli. This meal was naturally higher protein and fat but I did good at carb loading all day so it was part of the plan to enjoy a boost of iron at dinner!!
(Day 3 of Carb Loading)
This day was all about staying loose and saving energy! Rob and I did go for a shake out jog at a near by state park, but we took it very easy and stopped every few minutes for pictures!
*Lesson learned* I did not bring butter, and that would have been helpful in making the pancakes! They stuck to the bottom of the pan a little but I made it work :)
We ate breakfast at the cottage, packed our racing vests with hydration and fuel for during the run, and then left for the race! One thing I did not capture well during this weekend was my hydration. I packed two water bottles that we drank and refilled when we could throughout the weekend. But the tap water at the cottage didn't float our boat so we did stock up with some bottled water when we stopped at a gas station. By Sunday morning I felt well hydrated. I drank a cup of coffee, and sips of water before the run. Then during the run, I carried with me one 15-oz bottle of water and one 15-oz bottle of GU Hydration Mix. At mile 11, I refilled both at a water aid station...and poured a little water over my head for fun as well :-P
When we got home from the race there was some random snacking going on. String cheese, Hershey kisses. Then we were so tired that we settled on picking up a pizza for dinner.
At this point, some of you might be thinking "Wow, she eats a lot of pizza for a dietitian"...
Or perhaps you are thinking "I need to eat more carbs since she's eating so many carbs"...
I'd like to reiterate that eating for performance in a long distance race is different than how I eat on a normal day for health and wellness. I don't think that what I ate was the "perfect" fueling for a race weekend. But I wasn't striving for perfect. I was striving for optimizing energy, good taste, convenience while traveling, and fun. Additionally, everybody's needs are different. The pictures above are just my fun way of sharing with you how I fueled, but is not intended to be a recommendation of what you need to eat.
If you want individual guidance on how to fuel for an upcoming race, or how to improve your nutrition, I'd love to get to know you personally as a client of Rise Up Nutrition! You can book a free phone call today to chat about your nutrition concerns and we can create a personalized fueling plan.
Oh by the way....
1st place overall female .... and 6th place overall.
My carb loading and race-day fueling plan worked. Yes, I was tired, as most people are after running a long distance. But lack of energy was never a problem. I had no GI issues, no hydration issues, no fueling issues, no energy issues. And that is why my Race Day Fueling Guide is so darn good! Take a look yourself!