This is going to be a little bit like Groundhog Day! We covered an awful lot on Day 1 and there’s nothing particularly bespoke you can add to Day 2, so it’s really a case of repeating the same procedure. You should be starting the day with a low fat high carbohydrate breakfast with 20-25g of protein and once again you should be looking at a minimum of 75g of carbohydrate and having breakfast a minimum of 1.5 hours prior to the start. Usually with stage racing, it will kick off early in the day, so you may be pushed to hit the 1.5-hour deadline, but if you should really try hard to make it work. For an optimal fuelling strategy to work during the race, your breakfast needs to be fully digested. Remember that 2:1 Glucose Derivatives:Fructose will deliver 90g of carbohydrate per hour during exercise, but this assumes that there’s nothing at the cliff face the moment you start fuelling. By ‘cliff face’ we refer to the carbohydrate sitting next to the intestinal wall waiting to be absorbed. The purpose of your breakfast should be:
- To deliver 20-25g of high quality protein.
- To deliver sufficient carbohydrate to replace any glycogen lost through your overnight fast.
Ramming a huge breakfast down your neck may instinctively feel like the right thing to do, but if you think through this logically it doesn’t make sense. If you have a sub-optimal carb mix sitting at the cliff face when you start the race, it’s going to delay the absorption of your optimal 2:1 carb formulations and you’re going to be ripping through your stored glycogen more quickly than necessary. Give your optimal breakfast time to digest and if you’re feeling peckish leading up to the start, take a bite of a TORQ Bar or Chew as they contain the optimal mix of carbs, then 5 minutes prior to the gun, as you did the day before, consume your ‘5 minutes to go’ gel and you’re all set.
Suffice to say, it’s for all these reasons that a TORQ 3:1 Breakfast standardises your pre-race nutrition really nicely and as it’s so rapidly absorbed, you could get away with consuming it as close to 1 hour prior to the gun. We don’t want the monopoly on your Stage Race Nutrition, but we do design our products with athletes at the heart of our R&D. If you’ve got the time and you’re up early enough, have your beans on toast, it’s the food of champions, but just remember that we’ve got you covered with a convenient instant breakfast that you just need to add hot or cold water to.
It goes without saying, if we’ve not made it clear by this point, during the stage, once again fuel your performance fastidiously. Every gram of carbohydrate you consume through your fuelling products is a gram of carbohydrate you won’t be burning from your glycogen stores and if you don’t understand by this point in the article how important those stores are, quite frankly we give up! For instance, did you know that if you empty your glycogen stores and ‘bonk’ that’s pretty much your stage race finished. It will take 48 hours of high carbohydrate eating and no exercise to fully replenish your glycogen stores again and obviously you’re never going to have 48 hours of ‘no exercise’ during a stage race. Your primary aim from a nutrition perspective is to both protect your glycogen stores and protect your muscle integrity, hence our obvious obsession with protein and carbohydrate consumption as our key messages. If you don’t address this from Day 1, it’s only a matter of ‘when’ you’re going to bonk. Perhaps not Day 2 or 3, but it’ll bite you on the backside on Day 4.
Consume your recovery drink within 15 minutes of finishing and graze on high carbohydrate foods to plug the time gap between the calories consumed from your recovery drink and those in your next proper meal. Carry on grazing on high carbohydrate foods all day and don’t forget to get your 4-hourly protein hits either through a meals or snacks as the day progresses.