What you eat the week of, night before, and morning of a race can have a large impact on how your body feels and performs. Join expert sports nutritionist Dr. Krista Austin and TriDot coach Jeff Raines as they outline considerations for pre-race meals. This episode provides specific recommendations for protein, fat, carbs, and fiber intake in the days leading into your event. Set yourself up for success on the race course with example meals and advice for proper fueling while traveling.
TriDot Podcast .032
Pre-Race Fueling for Race Day Success (And Porta Potty Prevention)
Intro: This is the TriDot Podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training. Giving you better results in less time, with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation, and let's improve together.
Andrew: Welcome everybody to the episode that just might make you hungry before it's all over. Today we are talking about pre-race meals right here on the TriDot Podcast. What we eat the week of, the night before, and the morning of a race can have a huge impact on how our body feels and performs, and so we want to make sure that we get this right.
Our first guests here today to help us do just that is our resident nutritional expert Dr. Krista Austin. Krista is an exercise physiologist and nutritionist who consulted with the U.S. Olympic Committee in the English institute of sport. She has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and sports nutrition, a master's degree in exercise physiology, and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Krista, how is the life in San Diego today?
Dr. Austin: Well, it's nice and sunny. But since COVID-19, we have a strong order in place, and so I've been sheltering just like everybody else is supposed to. But that didn't stop me from getting outside and getting a good run in, but these days it's a hillier run because it's near my house. So that's San Diego today, it's much more dialed down than it has been, so it's interesting to see it with everyone going indoors and trying to stay there.
Andrew: Yes. Well, we are glad to hear that you are still able to get outside a little bit and enjoy the California sunshine, that's always good to hear. And hoping that the health of Californians is on the up-and-up. So next up is Coach Jeff Raines, Jeff has a master's of science in exercise physiology and was a successful D1 collegiate runner.
He's qualified for the Boston Marathon multiple times and has raced over a hundred and twenty triathlons from competitive Sprints to full distance Ironmans. Jeff has been coaching runners and triathletes since 2009. Jeff, on a scale of one to ten, how hungry are you right now as we head into this conversation?
Jeff: Eight and a half out of ten. And food for thought, Dr. A you know we're talking about pre-training meals, I think during this COVID time, I'm having multiple pre-training meals per day being stuck inside and walking in my kitchen multiple times.
Andrew: Dr. Austin, are you finding yourself snacking more, grazing more, eating more kind of being inside on lockdown?
Dr. Austin: You know I've had a lot of practice at this, and I guess I give a lot of advice on this topic. Not just right now, but as we become more of a telecommuting world.
And so I don't find myself doing it, but at the end of the day, it's one of the biggest things that we have to help people address right now because they're finding that either one they're consuming a lot more calories than they would have anticipated, or two they are cognizant of how much they should be eating and they realize they eat almost all of it before even dinnertime hits. So it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment period for most people, so they don't overindulge shall we say while we're shuttering.
Andrew: Absolutely. And if you guys are hearing us talk about this a little bit, you can go check out our episode that we posted a little ways back. Episode 26 of the podcast was exclusively about adjusting your training, and kind of adjusting your race plans based on the COVID-19 outbreak.
So if you want to hear us talk a little bit more about that and gain some tips to try to keep yourself eating healthy during that time, you can go refer to that podcast as well.
So well, I'm your host for today, Andrew the average triathlete, voice of the people, and the captain of all of you in the middle of the pack. Today, we'll start with our warm-up question, and then we'll move on to the main set conversation about pre-race meals.
For our cooldown today, I have a really cool clip to show you from another awesome sports podcast called “In A Skirt.” TriDot athlete Kelly Adams-Williams had a fantastic interview with the host of that show, and the folks from “In A Skirt” were nice enough to send me a clip to share with the TriDot podcast family.
It's going to be a great show, let's get to it.
Narrator: Time to warm up; let's get moving.
Andrew: All right, today's warm-up question. Not triathlon-specific today, but still a really fun sports-related question. Krista, Jeff you did it, you somehow struck it rich, and now that you are, you're thinking that it would be fun to add a professional sports team to your financial portfolio, that's the kind of thing that rich people do. What sports team would you most want to buy and own? Dr. Austin, I'll start with you.
Dr. Austin: Start with me. Well, I will tell you that one of the things that really need to grow here in the U.S. our professional women's sports teams. And so one of the ones that I think deserve some of the I guess greatest investment is women's cycling.
So I'll probably go and invest in a women's cycling team, professional cycling team, and truly treat them just as well and do as right by them as we see so many great men's teams do. We still have the catching up to do shall we say.
Andrew: No, absolutely. In California, I think would be the ideal place for a professional women's cycling team to be based out of here in the United States, with all the great cycling routes you have in that area. Don't you think?
Dr. Austin: Yes. And then I come from Colorado, so we'd probably be doing a back and forth with altitude and the whole bit. So I think it'd be ideal, two of my favorite places.
Andrew: Well, that is a great top shelf pick. Jeff Raines, you're rich, you can buy a professional sports team. What are you wanting to own, my friend?
Jeff: Man, I would love to be part of Team USA, something track-and-field related, just dealing with endurance athletes. I think Team USA triathletes that would be too easy, but I currently live in Austin, and there aren't any professional sports teams in Austin. But I grew up in the Arlington/Dallas area, and you know the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, I will say that I used to live within a mile of the new nice Dallas Cowboys football stadium, watched it go up, been there numerous times.
It'll be really cool to be part of that organization, but also, my great grandfather helped build part of the old Texas Rangers baseball stadium. I know there's a new one going up now. So just kind of being part of that growing up in that I would love to be part of those kinds of Texas or somewhat local teams, just being part of that for so many decades.
Andrew: Well, you're not just a part of it in this scenario, Jeff, in this scenario, you own it, so I need a decision. Because I'm hearing two options here if you had the money, would you buy the Texas Rangers that play baseball, or would you rather own the Dallas Cowboys based in Arlington, Texas?
Jeff: Oh man, I would probably go Dallas Cowboys if I had to pick.
Andrew: If your back was against the wall with billions of dollars, you would take the Dallas Cowboys.
Jeff: Can I move up to Jerry Jones though? I don't know.
Andrew: All right. Well, I thought about this long and hard, I'm kind of like Jeff Raines in the sense that I grew up big NFL fan, big Miami Dolphins fan. And so it's tempting to go that route because that's the big marketed sport here in the States. But just thinking worldwide, the bigger worldwide sport is football or soccer, right? As we call it in the states and I'm a big Bayern Munich fan.
So for all of our German listeners out there in the audience that are some of our athletes, I've loved Bayern Munich, I love watching them play. I have grandparents that are from Germany, and they taught me in the ways of German soccer growing up, and I've always cheered for them. I do enjoy watching the Premier League as well; for some reason, I've tried to kind of pick a favorite team in that league to root for, and I just enjoy watching the games.
I haven't really found myself rooting for one team or the other, in the United States we do get a lot of English Premier League games on television, and I enjoy watching them. But when Bayern Munich is on, I record it, I watch it later, and their dominance of the German Bundesliga is unrivaled and unmatched. And the red and white jerseys are just so gorgeous and striking.
If I could own a sports team, I think just for the worldwide notoriety, for the worth and the branding, and just to be a part of a worldwide sport as opposed to just an American one, to literally get to travel the world and watch the team you own play instead of just traveling the United States. My pick is Bayern Munich, out of Germany. So if I had billions and billions and billions and they were up for sale, that would be my top choice.
So, guys, we're going to throw this question out on our social media accounts, so head to TriDot Training on Facebook and Instagram, go to the I Am TriDot Facebook page, and we're going to make sure this question is up because we want to hear from you. If you had all the money in the world and could buy a professional sports team, you heard three great options here. Four kinds of with Jeff cheating a little bit, mentioning two Texas teams. But we're going to throw this question up, and we would love to hear from you.
Narrator: On to the main set, going in three, two, one.
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So Dr. Austin just to really kick us off in this discussion, just tell us straight up. Why our pre-race meals considered so important to our sports?
Dr. Austin: Well, the importance of pre-race meals comes down to the fact that when we go to bed at night, we actually put our body in a very slight state, hopefully, if we've been eating appropriately of what we call reduced energy availability. That means we've been without fuel for at least probably an eight to ten-hour window. And so the body has technically dipped a little bit in terms of energy stores, especially just like liver glycogen, and we want to restore that, especially the longer the race that you head into, the more important this actually is.
Because we're trying to say okay how much energy can I give myself to work off of during the actual race. And you'll hear some athletes who don't necessarily prep well and do their pre-race meal well, say gosh I got hungry in the middle of the race. Why was that? And I said well, how much did you eat prior to the start and let's look at how much you've burned while you were out there, and all of a sudden you realize there's this huge differential and it's one of the reasons they may get hungry during an actual race.
Andrew: So if we are doing our pre-race nutrition correctly, and we're fueling right and eating right, should there be a point in our race that we feel hungry? Or is that a sign that maybe we're doing something incorrectly?
Dr. Austin: You know I typically see it as a sign that we're not doing something correctly, because we don't want people just wanting to eat their hand off. And that also tends to lead to people grabbing fuel off the course that they're not familiar with, or too much of the fuel off the course. And all of a sudden, ending up possibly with GI distress.
And I just remember one young girl coming up to me and telling me you know why did my mom eat all that out on the course like that's not like her in the middle of an Ironman. And I said well it's kind of like Ironman syndrome, in essence, I said we got to work on our nutrition because she didn't eat enough prior to the start of the race probably.
And until she got off that bike and could really get to something that appealed to her, she went into this huge energy deficit, because we probably didn't have enough on the bike either. And then just said wow, there's flat coke and potato chips on the run, I'm going for it. So it's really important that we do things the right ways that we don't over consume things that we didn't practice with, or plan to utilize.
Andrew: So Dr. Austin, what is the difference between a pre-race meal and a pre-training meal or even snack?
Dr. Austin: So the differences are oftentimes the amount of time you'll have between a pre-training meal or snack, versus a pre-race meal. Often times, there's only an hour before the meal or snack that most people have prior to going into training. Usually, that’s because the duration and intensity of the training session in comparison to an actual event is a lot shorter.
The other thing is that they don't have to wait as long to actually get to fuel. So they say okay, I can have something an hour before. It might have a couple of hundred calories, and I'm good to go and actually get a training session in. Whereas we go to race, you're usually going to have a much longer period of time in between when you actually eat the meal, and finish and to get another meal. And so as a result, pre-race meals are typically had like at least three hours before the race.
And you snack all the way up to starting the race, just to help make sure that you don't go into that energy deficit that we talked about. Although I will tell you with some people who have really sensitive stomachs, you will see it be very similar actually. So I've had some people who say I can't even eat three hours before a light run because I get the trots or I get GI distress of some form or another.
And so in those individuals, it will be actually really similar. What you'll also notice is that the similarities between a pre-race meal and a pre-training meal or snack is that often times, it has to be very low residue. And what I mean by that is that there's not a lot of fiber or high-fat content to the meal or the snack, much like you don't want going into a race which would oftentimes lead to GI distress, it's usually a very simple meal or snack regardless of when you're taking it in. And you're going to go out there and exert some type of exercise intensity.
Andrew: What is kind of a timeframe that we have to consider when we're thinking about pre-race meals? Because I know some athletes all week long leading up to a race that they are just so careful in particular about what they put in their bodies, and then some athletes they don't really even think about it until it's go time and it's the morning of. What meals are really kind of our crucial ones when we're heading into race mode?
Dr. Austin: So for most athletes, I have them start their pre-race meal technically about three days before the race, especially the longer the race gets. Because we want to actually start to pull back on the fiber content of the meal, make sure the carbohydrate content is correct so that they have glycogen stores going in, and the right sodium stores going into the race. And then the next time point that comes along is about three to four hours before the race, and typically that is the actual meal time itself.
There's also the hour before the race is when we put in another snack very commonly, and then some people will even have something immediately before the race. And then, of course, there are those that also like to snack between those time points, and I do have those that are more nibblers instead of actual meal eaters.
And that's what works better for them. So we have to think of the pre-race meal as being a timing scenario that we come up with for each individual that is individualized for them so that they don't get the distress while they're out on the course regardless of the distance, and regardless of when they decided to kind of taper into that actual meal in terms of fueling their body.
Jeff: Yeah. And I would even stress that a lot of athletes will start their taper one week, two weeks, some maybe even three weeks out before let's say an Ironman. And I tell my athletes to taper their eating while they're tapering they're training to coincide with that, because a lot of athletes if you continue to eat, the volume and everything that you did in your peak training, high-volume weeks.
A lot of athletes get getting bloated a week or two or the week of a race, they put on a few extra pounds even, and it can significantly affect their power-to-weight ratios and all of the things that they've been utilizing and honing in on so perfectly. And so you know starting three days and even more before, three days specific for fueling for a stay. But I would even you know take a step back and even say taper your eating and your diet, as you're tapering your training as well.
Dr. Austin: Yes. And I would actually support that Jeff just because oftentimes if people are not accustomed to being very cognizant of what they're taking in, you will see what you just talked about, which is increased weight gain, sluggishness because they're consuming too many calories and actually putting on weight. They're not used to not expending those calories.
Jeff: So what about this, for years, the mindset for pre-race meals was to load up on carbs the week of and the night before a race. And you even see or at least you used to see this pretty often, that at many Ironman events you can buy a ticket to their kind of night before the race their pasta party.
And a lot of it is social and just kind of get the jitters out and meet people and mingle a little bit, but I mean, is there any merit to the mindset of carb-loading the night before? Or gorging yourself on these pasta meals? Is this approach largely outdated and un-recommended?
Dr. Austin: Yeah. I mean, for the most part, we know today that we can restore muscle glycogen relatively easy throughout the taper period. And that the glycogen stores can become saturated even just by eating our normalized diet, assuming we have the actual carbohydrate content necessary to do so. I will tell you that individuals who have been on ketogenic nutrition plans, sometimes will actually carbo-load in the day or two before going into the race, because that's part of their strategy.
It's just very unique to them. But overall, loading up on carbs the week of is not the thing that we need to promote any longer. Now about the pasta dinners, I would say pasta parties are there these days, at least in my opinion more so for the social aspect. I think a lot of people do need some carbohydrates prior to the race in their meal the night before, and pasta is a good simple carbohydrate that doesn't have a whole lot of fiber.
And they can go meet other people, hang out, make some new friends hopefully and enjoy just enough pasta I would say in order to help them prepare to race well the next day. So it's all about knowing your body and how it responds to the carbohydrates to help you decide if you're going to go to that pasta party or not.
Andrew: So forcing a second, third, fourth plate of spaghetti the night before an Ironman is not going to help you on race day, but it could potentially hurt you.
Dr. Austin: Yes, I know. That's not going to help you; it probably is going to hurt you a whole lot more than it's going to help you. And smart athletes, especially even elite athletes, I will tell you they do very little to change their routine going into a race. I mean some of the ones that I've worked with over the years, they'll say Krista can you just kind of watch what I do and give me feedback, because I don't think I need to carbo-load.
I don't think I need to deviate too much outside of just reducing the fiber content, they've decided how they're going to do that and how much they need to do that. And they actually eat in moderation, the portions are actually very reasonable in comparison to what you may see some people do or think they need to do in grabbing multiple plates of carbs and increasing their carb content as they go into a race.
Andrew: So you talked about how we have our meals three days out, we have our meals the day before, we have our meals the morning of. And you just mentioned fiber a little bit; we've talked about carbs a little bit.
So let's just talk about what are we actually consuming in those important pre-race meals. What are you kind of identifying as the key things that differentiate a pre-race meal from just a normal meal we would have throughout a normal week without a race coming up?
Dr. Austin: So for the most part, the two key factors that we really try to control or are the fiber content and the amount of fat in that in anything that occurs on the actual day of the race, and even those three days leading into the race, we're trying to control how much fiber and fat we have to help us avoid potential GI distress that we come from consuming too much of that. And really that's the fiber more so than anything, and the fat typically is the day of.
But I will just tell you that some people have to cut back quite a bit. They really do have to focus in on high-quality protein sources and very low glycemic carbohydrates just to keep their body in balance because they're so dependent on the use of fiber and fat in the diet in order to help them feel that even low glycemic approach to fueling their body. And so fiber and fat content though are the two primary things we’ll manipulate.
Then we will also usually start to lean more so on things like very low glycemic carbohydrates sometimes in powder form or even just like protein powders to help us increase satiety a little bit as we come into those three days. I've had to do that because some of my athletes turn around and say gosh, these low fiber foods having much higher glycemic index.
So we start to really take a good look at the carbohydrates and proteins we're taking in, and how much we're having and how we're timing those to help us avoid the kind of roller coaster effect shall we say that they can sometimes get from the more moderate to high glycemic carbohydrates.
Andrew: So personally, I have an oatmeal that I've used as my kind of go-to pre-race, kind of a staple of my meal for a little bit now. And it I know has eight grams of fiber per serving. And I've heard before that fiber is something that we should be controlling leading up to the race. And I've always wondered, I've never heard somebody put an amount on it. How much fiber is, how much is kind of too much for one of those meals leading up to a key race?
Dr. Austin: So when we go to what's called a true low residue or low fiber diet in those three days leading up to a race, we try to keep the fiber content down to about 10 grams. And if someone has the usual 30 grams or so of fiber in their diet that we're supposed to have on a day-to-day basis, this can be really unusual for them.
I will tell you your eight grams of fiber in your oatmeal prior to racing is something that I've seen over the years, because we have those that have the cast iron gut right, and they can have whatever it is they want. And they're fortunate in that sense, I think their metabolism is just different, yours is probably a little different than most people, and they can accept that.
Everyone technically has their own threshold, and what I encourage people to do is to work with the sports nutritionists to actually help find what is ideal for you. But for most of my clients, we find that about 10 grams per day for the three days leading into the race is what we rely on; that's our reference range, and then, of course, none the morning of the race.
Andrew: And so that's ten grams per day, and not per meal.
Dr. Austin: Yes. That's ten grams per day.
Dr. Austin: So it's interesting. I mean, people sit there, and they say okay, well all of a sudden, I feel like I'm really emptying out my bowels, and I said well, yes, that's the whole point. It's to help you make sure you're not going to need to do that during the race. And even the morning of, some of the athletes have turned around and said well, I didn't have to have a bowel movement the morning of, and I said well, that's kind of what we were actually hoping for.
Well, it makes them nervous the first time, because they're like okay, that's not the usual. But what they find out during the race is that they didn't have to go at all. And I said well, we pretty much emptied out the intestines and colon of the fiber that has needed to transport your usual bulk of your stool, right? So they really do get shocked by that one. But they appreciate the fact that they feel usually a little bit lighter, and they don't have any issues during the race.
Andrew: So that ten grams per day leading up to the race, does that change the morning of the race? So is it still 10 grams per day, you can have that 10 grams in that opening meal? Or are we trying to go even less fiber on race day itself?
Dr. Austin: Well, race day itself, we're trying not to have any fiber if we can. Some of mine will have 3 to 5 grams of fiber that's kind of spread out. But on the whole, if I can get them down to zero, I will do it. And it usually helps them, and they're my ones with the really sensitive stomachs, and I mean I have white rice that I found in the organic rice aisle that had zero fiber.
And I had an athlete that used to just heat up white rice in the morning and put jelly on it, to be honest, which sounds disgusting, but he really raced well on that. And when we figured that out for him, I said okay, just make sure you buy it and take it to the race with you, and that's 600 calories of white rice in the morning about three hours out with some jelly on it. So everyone ends up with their own unique mixture shall we say.
Andrew: Jeff, would you try that? White rice and jelly?
Jeff: I'll try anything. Actually, that is very interesting. But actually, I got something else, so Dr. A if you don't want any fiber race morning for obvious reasons, we don't want to have to go to the restroom or have GI issues.
Andrew: The poops Jeff, the reason is the poops.
Jeff: So you see this a lot, and I think we're going to talk a little bit about sabotaging your race later on the podcast. But a lot of people, and I don't think we're going to dive in a lot in regards to caffeine. But a lot of people may have an energy drink or a coffee/caffeine boost raised morning to give them that caffeine competitive edge. But it will negate the whole fiber, taking that out of the pre-race meal.
I guess it kind of goes to the saying that you don't want to try anything new on race day, but at the same time, I even told my athletes like if you drink coffee every single morning of every day that you train, then have that cup of coffee on race morning as well. But do you have anything to add as far as caffeine in regards to fiber and kind of that aspect of the pre-race meal?
Dr. Austin: Yeah. I mean, I give the same advice that you do with regards to, if they're used to a morning routine, and that includes coffee, then go ahead and have it. And depending on the athlete, if they are a responder to caffeine, we probably have experimented with taking a good dose of caffeine prior to the start of the race. And so we always have to factor that in, and I know that's something we'll talk about in upcoming podcasts.
But it's really an individual thing; you have to work with the person and work with what they feel like is best for them and their own system. How do they respond to coffee? Because some people even just say every morning Krista after I have my coffee, I feel a little bloated in my GI system. And that's just because they don't tolerate the caffeine very well; there's something that their GI system is responding to.
But oftentimes they use it because it helps them go to the restroom in the morning, and it is something to work on. And it can't be ignored, but it also shouldn't be relied on to help make sure you have that routine that you need to make you feel comfortable going into the race shall we say.
Jeff: So let me ask you this. We’ve talked a little bit about caffeine, a little bit about our carb loading, and or the myth behind that, so to speak, a little bit about fiber. But in the pre-race meal, how does fat and protein impact the decision that we should be making?
Dr. Austin: So the role of fat and protein is to help really slow down the food that you've got coming into your bloodstream. So we use protein and fat typically to help keep blood glucose more stable, so we don't have this rise and crash throughout. But what we try to do is to minimize the amount of fat that people are taking in, just because of its potential relationship with GI distress later on in the actual race.
Now I will tell you a little bit is it going to hurt you though, it's just we don't want anything with the excessive levels of fat in it. But the role of the protein and the fat is to slow digestion. We'll talk about some examples of you know what do you eat is a pre-race meal, and you'll see that that's why it's there because we are consuming simple carbohydrates and we don't want our blood glucose fluctuating too much as we go into the race. We don't want any highs and lows.
The other thing about the protein is that it's really good about providing satiety, especially for those really important longer races. And so you don't want to eat too much prior to your race start, because you don't want a huge gut that's kind of disrupted.
But you do want to feel full, and you do want to feel satisfied, and like you don't need to be eating something right before the start of the race and said oh, I didn't eat enough at breakfast. So oftentimes, what we do in that meal you know three hours out is include the right amount of protein from the right sources to help you feel satiated, even if that's a mixture of a supplement and food.
Andrew: So the protein, and when you talk about it providing, and I'm probably saying this totally wrong. I don't think I've ever said it before my entire life, I've read it many times, and I know what it is. But satiety, that's that feeling of being full, correct?
Dr. Austin: Full and satisfied.
Dr. Austin: There is a difference between just feeling full; we want to also feel satisfied. So if you don't feel satisfied, you tend to go around and be like let me snack on things because you get the wrong foods in your pre-race meal that you don't really care for. But you're having them because you think it's the right thing to do. Then oftentimes, prior to the race, people start looking for food.
And they eat something that they didn't practice with, and it's the one little thing that they throw off and out the door goes the race, and I've seen that happen. And you say okay why did you eat that, and you're like well, it was there and I just really didn't care for my pre-race meal, and then that's what happened. And you're like well, you shouldn't have done that. So we want to make sure people enjoy what they're going to eat prior to the race, we don't want them to not care for it.
Jeff: I remember in a previous episode that we recorded together, you talked a little bit about that, what was it satiety?
Dr. Austin: Yes.
Jeff: In that sports drinks provide, if you're drinking them outside of training just every day all day, they provide so many extra and probably unneeded resources that don't give us that say tidy, and so we continue to snack and eat with that. And we can tend to overeat or gain weight in peak season because we're overdoing the sports drinks and that satiety aspect. Is that related? Am I right in that comparison?
Dr. Austin: Yes, you're absolutely right. I mean I see a lot of people trying to go to the start line with a sports drink, and I'm going why are you using that? You've got to not only get into a race where you're going to consume a lot of it anyway, and I don't know why you want some right now.
But in addition to it, do you even need the calories, or do you even need it as you walk up to the line? And some people it will be a part of their strategy, you know I've done that with athletes for sure. We use specific ones to help them give their body what they feel like they need, but we don't want to over-consume them, especially as we start the race. Because you're going to be getting a lot of that while you're out there, and that's for racing, it's not for meals and snacks shall we say.
Andrew: So, Dr. Austin, what are some good examples of pre-race meals that have worked well for your athletes over the years?
Dr. Austin: So the carbohydrates that we rely on, and I always just say let's get your carbohydrates as your base is foods like cream of rice, English muffins, white rice I already mentioned that one. Low fiber cereals, and then we also tend to make smoothies, which are usually predominantly carbohydrates.
We also find a carbohydrate beverage of choice, because that's probably what they're going to use as they go to the line. And then in terms of protein and fat, we rely on eggs, nut butter and dairy products or if they're a vegan athlete, oftentimes they have a protein powder that they are reliant on. Then even some of my non-food based ones will add a protein supplement in just to help them feel more satiated so that they don't get too hungry out on the course. What about you, guys?
Andrew: Jeff, what do you have?
Jeff: Oh, I'm supposed to be throwing the curveballs here, not you, Dr. A.
Andrew: I wasn't ready, so I threw it to Jeff first.
Jeff: Oh, man, I love just avocado toast. I know we don't want to overdo the fat, but that's kind of just a daily go-to. Avocado toast for me, I drink and will drink those boost drinks. They're kind of like a slim fast, I mean, it might have a little bit too much, and you can you know throw out any feedback there if you want Dr. A, but I like those a little bit of carbs and proteins.
I drink a lot of those right after big workouts actually to get a lot of some of those nutrients back in. But I'll also go to yogurt, Greek yogurt, and just a handful of fruit. And maybe some granola mixed in with that as well are those kinds of my go-to pre-race meals.
Dr. Austin: Everyone's got their own unique choices is what I've always noticed, and it also sounds like Jeff's got a good gut I would call it. One that isn't too sensitive, but I think those are great examples for people who don't have that real sensitive stomach. That you really can mix in some fuel there, and get in the fats, the healthier fat, and the calories. But I also bet Jeff burns a lot of calories is what it sounds like based on his training, so.
Jeff: Well, I will say this that I do kind of have an iron gut, I will say, knock on wood because now I'm going to have some issue in my next big workout on my race. But this little bit of a side note; one of my best collegiate 800-meter races was at a track meet that we were hosting at UT Arlington.
And I was helping volunteer the race all week long getting ready, but I participated, had an 800-meter coming up, and part of working the meet I was allowed in the coach's lounge, and there was free food in there. And I just said you know what, it's been a long week, I'm about to race, but I'm going to indulge here a little bit.
I had a couple of hot dogs, bag of Cheetos, and a coke about 30-45 minutes before my 800. And believe it or not, I had one of the best 800-meter races that I ever ran collegiately that night. So maybe you're right in that I do have a little bit of an iron gut, sorry for that.
Andrew: It sounds like you're a little bit of a bad example, so it sounds like.
Jeff: Actually, that's our next question; I want to hear Andrews's answer to Dr. A's question. But her next question is about sabotaging your race, so maybe I should have left that response to the next one.
Andrew: Dr. Austin, let me ask this because you know obviously with your own athletes, you do a lot of different things, and you know Jeff has thrown out some of the things he's had over the years. I've used oatmeal for a while; I've also done the English muffin with nut butter thing and really enjoyed that.
I think I've always had a pre-race banana at some point in the morning, leading up to a race. And so obviously it is somewhat individual, and so when you're working with your athletes, how much of it is just up to the preference of the athlete, versus what may or may not be the best thing for that athlete? Or do you try to find some sort of middle ground where they're happy with it, but it's also a good situation? How do you kind of walk that line?
Dr. Austin: You know I ask them oftentimes how does your gut feel, and if their gut feels like everything kind of emptied out of it and they don't have any issues in actual training. I usually feel pretty confident that they've got something that works well for them. So I go based off of that quite a bit, I've had ones with really sensitive stomachs, ones that are kind of just middle-of-the-road and then ones that are just like cast-iron guts. And it doesn't matter what goes in; they can go compete well on it.
And so I use their training and practice, practice makes perfect to truly make sure we've got the right mixture for them. But most of them go based on feel, and how do you feel did my stomach bloat, how do I respond to this, and that's really what we're using over time. I never take something away where they sit there and say no, this is my ritual; this is what makes me feel good. So usually it's a bit of advice, but it's also left up to the athletes. If they don't have issues, then I don't see why not do it.
Andrew: So is there anything that you've heard an athlete try that pretty much sabotage their race? Anything that just is a general do not under any circumstances have this before your race?
Dr. Austin: Having pizza right before the start of the race probably was the worst choice I heard someone make. Especially given the short duration of the triathlon they were going to go do, just that the intensity was really high. But at the end of the day, their consequences I will just tell you were not that severe. But most of the time people show up to me, and they say hey, I had a really bad experience, and I kept having that really bad experience can you please make it go away.
So you got to remember by the time most people get to me, they are knocking at my door because they want to change the game. They want to make sure that they don't get sabotaged again. But I've had athletes over the years that I’ve watched them eat McDonald's prior to a race or a competition; I guess I should say they weren't a triathlete and they crushed it.
And they're like hey, I ate McDonald's I did great, what do you think? And I'm like well, that must be the pre-competition fuel for you. I mean, I've seen Olympic medals produced on peanut butter and jelly with Oreos and Reese's peanut butter cups, and they're like yes, Krista, it was perfect, and I'm like awesome, I'm glad that worked for you. Because that was their fuel of choice for their event, now also say for that athlete, they're going in for about six minutes in bouts, in round and so they're not going to probably experience the same level of GI distress you might during a long course triathlon.
So we always work with the person, people have tried a lot of different things, but for the most part, whenever I'm working with someone, I try to take out anything that could potentially sabotage their race.
Jeff: So what about athletes that travel for a race. We do a lot of you know race cations, a lot of big events are international and what about the athletes that don't have their normal restaurants, their normal grocery stores they're used to leading up to a race. Do you have any advice you would give these athletes in that kind of unique situation?
Dr. Austin: Yes. I mean, first and foremost, do your reconnaissance on the site, right? Do your homework on what's going to be available, and also find out if there's anything that might trip you up. Say just even going to a foreign country where maybe the meat is not produced in the same manner that we have it produced here in the US. And maybe you need to switch to chicken and fish, just because you could have an upset stomach when you typically don't.
So it's always about doing your homework and then packing whatever you need to take with you so that you ensure that you're going to be good for at least race day or the few days tapering into the race. Whatever happens afterward is fine, that's when you can get Montezuma’s revenge, right? And you're good because you don't have to race for a bit. But I always tell people pack what you need to pack and do your reconnaissance, and if I'm working with them, oftentimes, I'll help them do that reconnaissance.
The other thing we run into is they'll say well, here are the restaurants that are in the area. I don't want to go out a whole lot; I don't want to get sick. I don't want to run into too many people just because they're afraid of getting sick. And they say I've never been to any of these restaurants, what should I have? And that's when we will go a little more plain-Jane just because we don't want to have anything too exciting that might cause their stomach to react one way or the other.
Or we'll find a store like Whole Foods in the area and kind of stick to what we know we can get at Whole Foods, or we'll also go to a hotel that has a kitchenette and help that kind of guide us and keep us safe and keep them eating what they're used to eating. You can do that really well here in the US; it's when they go overseas. That's usually the greater challenge.
Andrew: Yes, I know. Jeff, that was a great question. And it reminded me of my first half ironman ever was 70.3 New Zealand. A couple of years ago me and my wife made a really great vacation out of that, all of our Kiwi listeners man Taupo is a beautiful lake town and just loved your country. But when we flew to New Zealand in the airport, when you fly in for the race, you've got your bike and its travel suitcase.
And you can see all the other people in the airport with their bike cases, it's a very distinct shape, and you know immediately what those people are in the country there for. And we had a guy come up and just start talking to us, and he was from Canada, he's my Canadian friend Mike. And he just so happened that he was going to the race; he was staying in the same hotel as us in the race city of Taupo.
And so once we got down to the race city, he kind of became our third wheel for the week and became a great friend of ours. And we had a rental car, so he would bum rides with us, and then he had a hotel room with a kitchen, and so we would hang out with him and cook breakfast. And anyway long story short, hanging out with him all week. We had the exact same meals at the exact same restaurants the entire time we were there, with the exception of one.
When Mike and I went down to race registration and picked up our packets, I don't know it would have been; it was bike check-in. We went down to the race site to check on our bikes, on our way back to the hotel; Mike got a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut in Taupo. And the next morning was down with food poisoning, couldn't race. He was actually there to do the full Ironman race; I was there doing the half.
And that's what we trace it to, is that that was the one meal he had that was different from what we had. So it was unfortunate for him, but to your point, sometimes when you're traveling, you have to mitigate how many different restaurants you go to and try to play it safe. And if you find something that seems to be working for you, maybe it's hunkering down at that one restaurant in those key meals before the race for us in New Zealand.
For anybody who's going to fly there and do 70.3 world's there later in the year, for us it was a restaurant called Dixie Brown's that's right on the corner of town on the other opposite side from the lake with a nice lake view. They had a lot of great meals there that were just very normal, very great, simply cooked solid pre-race meals. So if you're going there for those races, I recommend Dixie Browns on the corner.
There's also a grocery store in Taupo, so you are going to be able to buy what she would normally expect to have leading up to race week. But a cautionary tale from a friend of mine, Krista, let's maybe kind of move into this. For any of our athletes that have been listening today, they've soaked in the information, and they're examining what they've tried in the past, and maybe they're interested in making some tweaks. Is there a good way for us to practice kind of a race week meal routine?
Dr. Austin: Yes. You know what I always do is say look if you're that nervous about it, let's just choose a week where we do a brick or a simulation and just let you test it out. And most coaches, most athletes are down for that, or they know that they're going to go to a local race, it's not as big of a deal for them, and they choose to actually just practice at that race.
I guess today with what we have going on, we got to find a bike and a run on Zwift to practice, but that's okay too. Just find a point in time where you get the opportunity to test it out. And some people actually do that without ever racing; they just want to see what it feels like.
And they say oh gosh, you know that worked really well. Or they have a simulation that's coming up in training, and they test it out then. It's just always finding what you're comfortable with, what builds your confidence. And if that builds your confidence, then great, we're set, and we're ready to go.
Jeff: So let's end with this today, and I have my response here to this as well. But I'm going to ask Andrew here to go first, and then maybe Krista, you'll have some thoughts on it. But Andrew, as you have kind of grown and developed in the sport and have really raced a lot in the past year. What is your kind of go-to race week eating routine?
Andrew: Yeah, great question, Jeff. And actually, it's funny you asked me this, because again at the time we're recording this, we're kind of going through this COVID-19 epidemic where races are getting canceled, and athletes are kind of facing that challenge. And so I was on my way I think six or seven weeks out from Ironman Texas when they postponed that race.
Still waiting to get an official race day, and so I actually Jeff was in that time period where we're six, seven weeks out, we're starting to get that four-plus hour bike rides on the weekend with a run off the bike. We're starting to get to those race rehearsals; we're coming up. And so I was starting to play with some different things in those long workouts. Again in the past, I've used some oatmeal.
I was always kind of aware that it was probably too high in fiber; I'd never done a race longer than a half Ironman for it to ever really bite me in the butt, figuratively and literally. And so I was trying to kind of play with some things that weren't that, knowing I was doing a full all-day Ironman. And so what I was enjoying was just the English muffin with some nut butter and a banana.
I would have that kind of before I leave the house, and I would drive out to the site where I would kind of park myself for my long ride and kind of sipping on some generation UCAN kind of write before I would start the ride, and that was kind of it. So I was playing with that, and that was my plan for Ironman Texas was to do that as well. Just two English muffins with nut butter and a banana, and a little bit of UCAN. I do always have a cup of coffee because if anybody tries taking away my coffee for me, I will fight you.
I would rather be worse on my sport and have coffee than be better at my sport and not have coffee, but that's just me. So Jeff, what about you? In your time you've raced over 120 triathlons, we brag on you every time I open the show, it's like my favorite fact I say about you. What is your go-to, or maybe even what are some of the things you've tried to move on from in your time as an athlete?
Jeff: I've tried all sorts of meals and restaurants and all sorts of things the day before a race, and in the week leading up. The big thing for me is kind of portion control and timing that out. So I will have the week of a race, maybe a bigger lunch and a slightly smaller dinner. And for me, when I travel, whether it's a long car drive trip or just flying, going to a new state for a race, I tend to bloat a little bit. I kind of retain water and stuff like that when I travel.
And so for me, it's more you want to get a little bit of salt in there, a little bit of a salty meal but nothing crazy because that can cause bloating and water retention and just all sorts of stuff like that. And so my main go-to is the day before race, I'll eat an earlier lunch and an earlier dinner, and it would be a bigger lunch. And my go-to is McAllister’s; it's a healthier kind of lighter foods. I'll get like a chicken spud and maybe like their broccoli cheddar soup, something with a little bit of sodium in it.
And so I might eat that for lunch and then just a smaller dinner. But I've even tried you know like Texas Roadhouse or a steakhouse the night before a race, a lot of people swear by that. 6:00-7:00 p.m. steak mashed potatoes stuff, like I've tried all that, and I'm you know knock on wood I've never really had any real GI issues in a race. But I do feel and have felt bloated when I eat in the portions of that.
So bigger lunch the day before, slightly smaller dinner and eating them a little bit earlier in the day, tend to kind of help that bloating aspect of just traveling. Maybe a little bit of that is nerves as well, maybe your GI functioning slows down or something like that based on kind of jitters as well.
Andrew: Dr. Austin, Jeff said something, and I almost asked this earlier, and during one of the responses. Is there, in that day before the race, three days before the race as we're having different meats, is there a downside to maybe certain proteins like Jeff referenced. He's tried some red meat, a steak the day before. Is there anything that's kind of a wrong answer when we're in those crucial days before race in terms of those meat-based proteins?
Dr. Austin: Yeah. So I try to look at it based on the digestibility that most people will have towards specific foods, and typically fish and chicken are just lighter on the gut, and they're a lot easier to digest. They don't keep us up as much at night, especially if you're a little bit of a later eater.
But if you've got the iron gut, then if they want to have red meat a couple of days out, I never recommend it the night before unless it's like just a bit of a bolognaise or a spaghetti and meatballs. But on the whole, just remember that red meat itself is harder to digest than say fish or chicken, and it's just much lighter.
So keep that in mind, but if your gut tolerates it, then you're absolutely fine. But I try to keep people closer to home and a couple of days out there working with fish and chicken.
Andrew: So Dr. Austin, for you, if you are going to a race or if you're going to go relive the glory days from your collegiate tennis career and go hit the court for a major session out there. What is your go-to pre-event fuel right now?
Dr. Austin: Well, I've got a pretty sensitive stomach when it comes down to it. And I will say in college I didn't really know anything about fueling my body, there's the irony of it all. And we just used to say okay, you know let's have a bagel and walk out the door and grab a Gatorade and that was it especially back then. That was all we really need to do, and then maybe we get some like Quaker, chewy granola bars.
But whenever I go out to do something longer, it doesn't matter if I was going to a race or if I was just going out to do the workout. I actually have to be pretty cognizant of what I'm putting in, and I always try to make it very low residue, typically it's a couple slices a toast and then a carbohydrate beverage to help keep me going forward. And I really have to use that nutrient timing scenario to keep it going. So it's all about that sensitive stomach, and not having too much caffeine.
Andrew: So Jeff is one end of the spectrum, and you are the other end of the spectrum, and I'm probably somewhere in between.
Dr. Austin: Yes, pretty much. I'm the one that says be really careful.
Jeff: I'm the good cop, bad cop.
Dr. Austin: Yes. I will say like Jeff, I do bloat when I travel, so I try to watch the amount of sodium and things like that. And if I was traveling to anything to be honest with you, whether it's to support an athlete or to race or whatever it is.
Because of that, I actually say okay, I need a couple of days because otherwise I walk off pretty swollen and take a couple of days to get back into my routine. It's all the alterations and hormones as you travel that retains that fluid.
Andrew: We're going to circle back for a racing while traveling episode.
Dr. Austin: Yes. So it's very unique for a lot of people, just what they have to do to get their legs underneath them and keep their stomach right and make sure they sleep well when they get to a new destination. It's tough; it's an individual thing for sure.
Narrator: Great set everyone; let's cool down.
Andrew: On our cooldown today, we have a little podcast Inception. We have a clip from a podcast in our podcast. Krystal Garcia Riley hosts the In a Skirt podcast, where she interviews athletes that are breaking stereotypes and celebrating differences in sports. The idea and name came to Krystal because she herself as a runner and cyclists takes the unconventional approach of doing these sports in what she calls a long-ish skirt.
Guided by her Pentecostal faith, Krystal takes a more modest approach to workout attire. Because of that, she always refused to sign up for races, feeling like she would stick out in the crowd in a skirt. But when she finally faced her fears and toed the line for her first race, she found the fitness community to be nothing but warm and welcoming, long skirt and all. Now through the in a skirt podcast, Krystal looks to interview others who are inspirations in the sport in some way.
On episode 55 of the In a Skirt podcast, Krystal interviewed TriDot athlete Kelly Adams Williams. Kelly became an Ironman at Ironman Florida in November of 2019, crossing the finish line with a beaming smile, TriDot jersey on, and hands reaching in celebration towards the sky. Krystal did a wonderful interview with Kelly to talk about her Ironman journey and persevering through all the doubts that can creep into your minds when you're preparing to take on such a challenge.
As TriDot’s podcast guy, it was a joy to hear one of our amazing athletes talk about triathlon on another really cool show. Krystal, from the In a Skirt podcast, was nice enough to send me a great clip to share, and it even includes Kelly talking about TriDot and giving a shout out to her tri coach. So here is Krystal and Kelly from episode 55 of the In a Skirt podcast.
Krystal: You overcame a lot just in the training. So this full Ironman that you did when was it, it was just a few months ago, wasn't it?
Kelly: It was November 2nd, 2019.
Krystal: Okay. So I follow you on Strava and on Facebook and all of that, so I was seeing your training, and it was going really well. But then you had some sickness and some asthma flare-ups, and inability to train the way that you're used to, and the way that you wanted to. So what made you keep going through all of that?
Kelly: Well, I had a good coach. I had a coach, I trained with a platform called TriDot triathlon training, and my coach's name is Kathy Hudson. And she's even older than I am in her 50s and is also an asthmatic. So she would adjust my training based on my illnesses or my asthma flares, and of course, right before, in the weeks right before my full Ironman, I had a massive asthma flare.
You know it was funny because even my doctor was pulling for me, and he was adjusting my maintenance medications and different medications to help me try to overcome it. And so the last few weeks where it's important training, I didn't do so well. The two longest bike rides like eighty and ninety and a hundred-mile bike rides, I think maybe I was just so exhausted from all of the cumulative training and the struggling to breathe, I had two pretty severe falls on the bike.
And one I almost got hit by a truck, and I kind of hit the ditch on the right side of the road. So at least I landed in tall grass, and it was a cold day, so I had on long sleeves, long pants, and gloves, so it didn't scrape up that whole side of my body, and I was very lucky to fall in tall grass. It shook me up pretty much. And then the second time I fell I just got off the road, I got off there fell into the gravel.
Then I thought well, let me see if I can get back onto the road and going up that little curb of the black asphalt, just knocked the wheel out from under me and probably at 17 miles per hour, I just slid along the asphalt and that time I did not have on long sleeves, long sock. And I've got road rash all over that side of my body. But I think I was just so tired that my reflexes and maybe mine decisions were slower.
I could see the cumulative damage on my body, so I was going to get massages regularly and getting active relief therapy you know on my hips, they got real tight. You know just using that foam roller and stretching constantly. So going right into the Ironman, I had all that, the two falls and just an asthma flare.
I hadn't been able to train, so really the first time I even ran probably in two weeks before the Ironman was in a shakeout run that the TriDot group had two or three days before the race when I just got to Florida. And my coach was having me do a three one, three-minute run, one-minute walk, three-minute run, one minute walk, and we were trying to keep it within a certain pace, which is much slower than like a 5k pace.
5k or 10k or sprint triathlon, you can run all out, but longer distance races, you have to pace yourself, so you last longer. And also, she really taught me about cadence and power on the bike and pacing on the run and all about race nutrition. That is the third or the fourth thing, and you've got swim, bike run, and nutrition in triathlon.
And the first half ironman that I did, I didn't have her, and I didn't have my nutrition nailed at all, and I ended up in the hospital on an IV because I was dehydrated. So I never had a problem with my nutrition at all during the entire Ironman race, because we had refined it to perfection.
Andrew: Well, that's it for today, folks. I want to encourage all of you to go listen to Kelly's full interview, talking about her ironman journey. In the full interview, Kelly talks about TriDot’s own John Mayfield, Elizabeth James, and Jeff Raines joining her for just a little bit on the run course and cheering her on at the finish line. For all of that and more, the In a Skirt podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and at Inaskirt.com.
Big thanks to Dr. Krista Austin and Jeff Raines for talking with us about pre-race meals, and a big thanks to Generation UCAN for partnering with us on today's episode. UCAN has launched a few super exciting new products recently, I am loving their cocoa-flavored energy plus protein mix, and I'm currently stocking my mailbox from my very first order of their new chocolate almond butter energy bars.
For me, UCAN is starting to take over an entire pantry shelf as they keep putting out new things I just have to try, and so head to generation, you can call to see what superstar products should be taking over your own pantry shelf.
Enjoying the podcast, have any questions you want to hear our coaches answer? Heads to TriDot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon, until then happy training.
Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com, and start your free trial today. TriDot, the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.