Last Minute Prep

With New Zealand’s most iconic mountain bike ride just round the corner, it’s now time for some last minute nutrition advice. You can also check out my comprehensive article on nutrition for the Karapoti Classic here, but in the meantime, here is a step by step guide for getting prepared.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

In saying that, you've possibly got one or two more opportunities to go for a ride, so you could trial some of the products that will be on course. R-Line will be at the aid stations, of which there are two, so it would be a good idea to have practised using this drink prior to having it on race day. If you tolerate it, great, but if you don’t like it then plan on giving it a miss.

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:

  • What is my goal time?
  • 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.

Trailblazer Recommends: Most of you will be wanting to have two drink bottles filled with fluid. If it is a particularly hot day you can top up from the aid stations, but even if it is cold I would not recommend less than this.

Step 3

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, but you Wellingtonians may prefer a Garage Project.

Pre-Race Meal

  • Eat at least 2 hours prior to exercise, that is around 8am at the latest.!
  • Your pre-race meal should be high in carbs, and low in protein and fat.
  • 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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

Have fun! Mountain biking is a special sport because it is a blast. So get out there and get dirty!

If it doesn't go to plan, remember this proverb "Whaia te iti kahurangi, Ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei".

Good luck!!