Food I Travel With For Race Week
When I pack to go away with the Great Britain Para-Cycling Team, be it to a race or training camp, I don’t just pack all my clothes, toiletries and cycling kit, but I also pack quite a lot of snack based food. I promise you though, we do get fed when we are away, but I have had mixed experiences of whether the food has been good or not, healthy and plentiful. I have learned from experience that it is best to plan for all outcomes and to always have a back-up plan.
While I am at home doing the majority of my training, I am obsessive about the food I eat. I will only eat certain foods before I train and will avoid others. On a race day I am even more particular and so I don’t like to leave my race day fuel to chance. Instead I bring as much of what I will eat on race day with me and then when I get there put in a request that our carers make me a plain ham and cheese sandwich for lunch on any days I’m racing in the afternoon. They know me by now, as i’m a creature of habit in some ways, and so generally I don’t even need to ask.
I also always travel with a box of granola to have for my race day breakfast. I want something plain and simple that I can trust and this is my easiest option. In the past I have brought my own oats, almond milk and mixed dried fruit, in order to make overnight oats, but I’ve stopped relying on this so much recently as a few times I didn’t have access to a fridge and so couldn’t make them.
Another thing I like to travel with and eat on race day is malt loaf. Again this is another simple food that provides me with plenty of energy, while not sitting around in my stomach or disagreeing with me. I have quite a sensitive stomach when I race, I think it is because I get nervous and so I am notorious for feeling sick or having stomach cramps before I get to the start line and then actually being sick once I’ve finished. I try to minimise this discomfort by sticking to plain and simple foods as much as possible. On a race day my general nutrition rules go out the window. Before I race i avoid fruit and vegetables, protein and complex slow releasing carbs. I stick to simple easily digested carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, bananas and Nakd bars. Basically anything that will deliver a quick hit of energy to my muscles and fuel me to race. All the good nutrition will come after in recovery.
Our specific sport nutrition, such as energy drinks, gels and bars, as well as protein for recovery, is always brought out and provided for us by the squad. They also provide us with plenty of healthy snacks, as cyclists are notorious for eating a lot. There is always a good supply of fresh fruit, cereal bars and yogurts if we have access to a fridge. However, I like to travel with my own snacks whenever possible, as then I can guarantee I can eat what I like, and I also know what I’m getting. I can’t travel with fruit though, so I always make use of this and the yogurts.
I like to travel with a variety of snacks to keep it interesting, so I don’t get bored. I also like to ensure that some of my snacks contain a little bit of chocolate to keep me smiling. It doesn’t need to be much, just a couple of chocolate based cereal bars. One of my favourite things to do is to save up any of my Graze snack boxes containing chocolate, that I regularly get sent, and bring them all out with me, keeping me well supplied.
I also bring plenty of Nakd bars, as these are what I like to eat when I’m training and pre-race. Again I will generally try to bring a couple of different flavours. Then I will never quite know what flavour I am going to get until I open it. Thats another perk to not being able to see, you always get a surprise when you take the first bite.
The final food, or really drink based product to go in to my suitcase, is my kettle, travel cup and selection of herbal teabags. I love a cup of tea, especially before bed. I find it just helps me to wind down and feel relaxed. I also find that if I do have any stomach issues, then a mint tea is the perfect solution, so I always bring mint tea with me along with a couple of other choices. My favourite mint is the Twining’s Buttermint as its so minty and refreshing, its incredible. I also enjoy choco-tea, which doesn’t actually really taste of chocolate, just spicy and very warming, and recently I’ve discovered a red bush with caramel, which is really sweet and just yummy.
So there you have it. I do tend to bring quite a lot out with me, which is why my suitcase is always really full and heavy. But its just best not to leave things to chance when it means so much. I spend a long time preparing and planning for a race, so why risk blowing all that hard work in the final couple of days before the big day. If you have any nutrition based questions when preparing for any sporting event, then fire them my way.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.