Nutrition Tips for the TransRockies Classic

By Meghan Molnar RD/ Transrockies Singletrack 6 Brand Champion 2019

We are months away from toeing the line to the 2019 Transrockies Classic and I am guessing most of you have started training; in most of Canada this time of year means lots of cross training, whether that be fat biking, indoor cycling, cross country skiing; getting those base endurance miles are important. Physical training is obviously extremely important when it comes to long stage races that demand day after day of pushing your physical and mental limits, but nutrition plays a huge role leading up to race day and during the event itself.

Fueling and nourishing your body during the months of training will be important to keep you healthy and injury free. Don’t skimp on those complex carbohydrates as they are the key to fueling you during your long rides. Having a nutrition plan for before, during and after your training sessions will go a long way in keeping you fueled and ready for your next ride. And don’t forget about fluids; staying hydrated will be very important to feeling strong and able to push that extra effort.

Practice your race nutrition during training! You don’t want to start a new diet or supplement during the race as this can have dire effects on your performance.  

Here are some tips to keep you fueled and strong during race week.

Priorities are to: FUEL + REPLENISH + RESTORE + HYDRATE

  • Fuel your body’s energy needs for the current day’s race.

  • Refuel your body to recover from the current day’s race; replenish glycogen stores + tissue repair.

  • Fuel your body for normal health and metabolic functioning; balance, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients.

  • Prepare your body for the next day’s energy demands.

  • Replenish fluids and electrolytes and stay hydrated.

Breakfast – Arguably for racing it is the most important meal of the day. Have a fairly large pre-ride breakfast. Make sure there is an easily digestible carbohydrate to give the body usable energy along with a bit of protein and fat to keep the body satisfied and prevent tissue breakdown from the start. Eggs, oatmeal, fruit and toast are pretty standard pre-race food.  Try to eat 2-3 hours prior to starting your race to give yourself time to properly digest and put those nutrients to use.

Some people find solid food hard to keep down in the morning before a race. If you struggle with this try having more liquid calories such as a smoothie made with banana, dates, almond or peanut butter, oats and milk. Everyone will have their favorite go to smoothie.

Pre Race – Breakfast was hours ago, while staging you should be sipping a beverage and eat a snack of banana, ½ sandwich, chews or bar to top off your energy stores.

During Race – This depends on how long the race is, but the general rule is to start eating early and often and aim for 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Forgetting or waiting too long to take in calories on any ride is a mistake, but on a stage race, you aren’t just hurting the current race, you’re digging yourself a hole for the next day’s race. It is good to find out what food the race will be stalking at their checkpoints so you can eat these foods in training, this will help lighten your load.  Make sure to eat dense sources of calories like bars or PB and J sandwich and quick sources like gels and chews. Stick with what you know works for you.

Don’t forget fluids. Drink every 15-20 minutes to maintain hydration. Use a hydration pack if this makes it easier for you or you have limited access to fuel stations throughout. Personally I like to put water in my pack and electrolyte in my bottle. Electrolytes are going to be essential for the long, hot days in the TRC.

Post Race – Within 20 minutes of getting off the bike, eat and drink. You need to get carbs, protein and fluids into your system so your body can start the recovery and rehydration process. Using something like a protein/carb mix recovery-specific sports drink can be a convenient way to do this, especially since we will be finishing in remote locations with limited access to food. A few back to back days of inadequate hydration and nutrition will compromise the speed of your recovery and leave you feeling sluggish and tired.

Within an hour or two of finishing have a good, solid meal. Make sure this contains a mix of carbs and protein; a sandwich with peanut butter and banana would be good if your options are limited and dinner is a few hours away. Follow this up every three or four hours with substantial meals and snacks until you’re ready for bed. Have a drink with every meal and sip on fluids until you go to bed to keep rehydrating.

Lastly, don’t forget the non-nutrition related recovery strategies like stretching, rolling, elevating the legs, compression and sleep. Go to bed early, as sleep is extremely important in the recovery process.

Then repeat for the next 6 days!

Most important of all is to have fun; If your not having fun, your performance will suffer, and we are all in this for fun right!

For the past 7.5 years Meghan has worked as a Public Health Dietitian on the Sunshine Coast, but her passion for pushing her body to its limits in ultra-endurance races, has led her to research and learn about the important role nutrition plays in being able to go to your limits.