By Emily Miazga, M.Sc. Clinical Nutrition and 3x Coast to Coast Longest Day winner
As you taper training in the week before the event, stored glucose in the muscles and liver (glycogen) usage is less, which results in a net-gain in stored glycogen in your body. Carb-loading can significantly improve endurance for long events by maximizing your glycogen stores through increasing your carb intake in the 1-3 days prior to the event.
- Usual training needs are 7-10 grams carb/kg body weight per day
- Carb-loading increase to 10-12 grams carb/kg body weight/day 24-72 days prior
- Use food labels to understand the grams carb/serving consumed
- Most fruits = 20-30 grams carb per serving
- OK to use sweets and sports drinks when carb-loading but avoid indulging on junk foods
Breakfast (115g carb)
Large bowl of cereal or porridge – 65
300 ml milk or rice/soy milk – 20
Large banana – 30
AM Snack (60g carb)
Muesli bar – 30
Large piece fruit – 30
Lunch (125 g carb)
2 sandwiches w/grainy bread – 80
Em’s Power Cookie – 45
PM Snack (125g carb)
Yoghurt or filled roll – 40
Piece fruit – 25
6 Ginger Nuts – 60
Dinner (170g carb)
125g pasta w/sauce with added protein – 130
2 pieces garlic bread – 40
Salad – N/A
Fluids (280g carb)
4 litres sports drink – 70g/L
TOTAL = 875 grams Carb
The 4 litres of sports drink in important for the loading regimen and pre-hydration before the event. Use a good quality sports drink that you are familiar with from training.
Breakfast needs to be well-thought out because your race start time dictates when you should eat; this is particularly crucial for the two-day teams in the Coast to Coast.
- Eat breakfast 1-4 hours before the event
- The preferred timing will vary individually based on gut tolerance
- Pre-race jitters can affect digestion so choose familiar foods
- Eat foods that are light and easy on the stomach like toast with natural peanut butter and jam, Em’s Power Cookies, or cereals
- Avoid high protein, high fat and high fibre foods
- Use fluids and sweet things to get in those carbs
Teams – Runner
You may not want to eat breakfast the same time as your kayaker, because he/she starts at 7:00am, and you won’t start until almost 2 hours later, so it’s OK to delay breakfast accordingly. Due to race logistics, you need to drop your kayaker at the start early before heading for Aikens Corner. Choose foods that can be eaten easily perhaps on the go while driving to Aikens. Examples include bananas, energy bars, Em’s Power Cookies, tinned fruit, sandwiches, and meal replacement drinks.
DURING THE RACE
Carb and Fluid Targets*
Carb: 60-80g per hour
Fluid: 250-300mL every 15-20 minutes
*Assessment with a Sports Dietitian can help to individualize your plan
2k Run/56k Cycle
Start fueling about 1 hour into the first bike:
- 1 bottle of energy drink and 1 bottle of water
- 1 80g Em’s Power Cookie
33k Mountain Run
All food (and litter) must be carried in and out with you, so it’s advisable to take compact, high energy foods, such as sports gels, energy bars, Em’s Power Cookies, and gummies. For fluid you can drink water from the river, so no need to carry a hydration bladder. I recommend using an empty drink bottle with a lid if you wish to carry a small amount of water with you. Or, you can use a cup or your hands to scoop up water. Drink from every crossing except the Otira and the Bealey rivers.
The advantage of having the bottle (rather than a cup) is that you can fill the bottle as you cross the river, pop on the lid, and carry the bottle in your hand while you keep running and eating. When you are finished, empty the bottle, and return it to its pocket.
Food to meet the min. carb target for a 5hr run time:
- 6 gels (150g)
- 20 gummies (100g)
- 1 80g Em’s Power Cookie (50g)
Total carbs = 300g / 5 hrs = 60g carb/hr
If your run time is slower then add 1-2 more gels and another Em’s Power Cookie.
For 2-day competitors ensure that both team members, and individuals get in a high carb and protein recovery snack, plus a bottle of fluid to replace sweat losses within 30-45 minutes of finishing. Follow it up with ongoing snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic) and a generous main meal, like the example in the above carb-loading meal plan.
15k Cycle/67k Kayak
For the start of day 2 and the 15k cycle, the same breakfast timing as above applies. All 2-day teams and individuals should have a bottle of sports drink on your bike to help pre-load for the river.
Longest Day Competitors – take note
Use the 15k bike to fuel up prior to the kayak section:
- 1 bottle sports drink
- 1 80g Em’s Power Cookie or a sandwich, or 3-4 medium steamed potatoes
It is advised to use a drinking system (bladder tied in the boat with tubes running to your PFD) with sports drink as your main source of fuel. For a 4-5 hour paddle, you should have at least 3L of sports drink plus 1L Coke, so 2 bladders. In addition to this, take an energy bar or Em’s Power Cookies. For those taking longer than 5 hours, add 3-4 more gels and at least 1 more energy bar. Eating in the boat takes practice, and be sure to have your drinking system operating.
At this point in the race, particularly for individuals, the final cycle is a matter of energy management. Plan to take 1 bottle of sports drink and 1 bottle of Coke as well as 2-3 gels and some gummies. Carry an energy bar for back up. Take a few sips of fluid every 15-20 minutes and a gel every 30 minutes.
Once you finish, rehydrate with a good sports drink and a protein shake for recovery. Have fun and good luck! Em 🙂