Race Fueling Conundrum: Hammer Nutrition vs. Rice
So my experiment using real food to fuel training has been a success. But what about racing? When I’m training in my MAF range below 145 BPM, I digest the rice balls, rice cakes, and potatoes with no problem. I look forward to the snack instead of reminding myself to eat. But what about race intensity? Is a rice ball going to stay down when I’m charging at 165-185 BPM? Or will I see it again, flying through the air as I vomit? Can I manipulate these snacks while mountain biking on a rough course? Or will I wrap my rice cake and myself around a tree?
Therein lies the conundrum:
Never try anything in a race you haven’t tried in training
Racing feels totally different than training
What to do?
One way would be to try new things in high intensity workouts or race simulations. But I prefer to keep my training strictly aerobic.
Another way is to designate a race as a “practice race” to try new strategies without getting overly concerned about the results. So if it all goes down in flames, just practice recovering as much as possible and learn from it.
I will try the second approach in this weekend’s Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Race, 4 hour solo event. Last year I went nuts and did the 8 hr solo event, but this year I will go shorter so I will be well recovered for the following weekend’s XTERRA. This year I will go shorter and test out my real food fueling strategy and see how it feels to fuel on rice, potatoes and dates while riding hard. Since it is a multi-lap format, I can set up a pit area with a cooler for food and drinks. I will fuel with real food, and hydrate with plain water in my hydration pack. I will bring a bottle of Sustained Energy and some gels, just in case the solid food doesn’t work. I will hydrate on the course, and refuel with rice and potatoes between each lap. I’ll carry dates in my pocket if needed on the course. Due to the length of this event, I think the real food will work great. In any case, it will give me valuable information for next month’s Leadville Qualifier at Northstar.
My goal is to ride 5 laps within the 4 hour time limit. If I miss it, I think I will just go out and ride another lap anyway to make it a good long day.