Tayte Pollmann’s Tuesday Trail Tips series of articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. Tayte recently took his first high-speed train trip from Paris to the mountains & trails of Southern France.
This past Sunday, I raced for Team USA at the Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Karpacz, Poland. I’m happy to say we took home a team silver medal and I give a shout out to my teammate Joseph Gray who finished in 3rd for an individual bronze medal. This race, like almost all mountain races, was a morning start, which got me thinking about the role of breakfast in getting the most out of my race day performance. When do I wake up and when do I eat those Wheaties? Here’s a recap of my pre-race morning breakfast on Sunday to give you some suggestions about what factors to consider when preparing your race day breakfast.
I hit the breakfast at 7:15 am prior to the 9:00 am race start. Many of my teammates preferred to eat earlier in order to have more time to wakeup and digest, but for me I prefer eating closer the race. This is because I have no troubles eating and running. Also, on a typical training day, I run immediately upon waking up, which means I’ve trained my legs to fire up quickly.
Breakfast, for me, is something I don’t usually have until after my morning run. However, I know that on race morning I give a harder effort than my normal training runs, which means I’ll need the extra energy from breakfast. Prior to Sunday’s race I ate muesli with milk, a banana and whole grain bread with Nutella. I chose these foods because I think they’re all really yummy and because I know my body will easily digest them easily. For breakfast, I suggest knowing what foods works for you as each persons’ digestive system reacts differently. For example, I was able to eat high fiber bread and muesli without any stomach issues but if you typically have a low-fiber diet these may not be great choices.
Also, I don’t eat the exact same foods at every race breakfast. I like a mix of complex and simple carbs with some fats. I know some runners prefer to eat the same foods before every race, but with all of my traveling I’ve had to be more flexible so that I don’t have to stress about bringing certain foods everywhere I go. I noticed most of Team USA was also flexible and enjoyed the expansive hotel buffet on the morning of the race. I’ll admit, however, that since competing in this same championship last year in Italy, I discovered that Nutella on race day morning gives me an extra boost! Now Nutella always gets packed in my luggage!
Overall, I wanted to share my race morning breakfast in Poland to get you thinking about how to fuel your body on race morning. Do you need more time to digest? Do you need a more strict or flexible breakfast routine? Are you getting a proper mix of carbs and fats for sustained energy? Everyone’s needs will be different but the right breakfast is an essential part of the pre-race routine.