Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Race Week Nutrition

Tree Hugger in Provence. Photo by the GripMaster.

I missed a week of baking, cooking, etc. I apologize. I was in France attending Salomon Advanced Week (which you can read about here). There was running, eating pretty decent French food and some good fun. But I am back now and doing a power taper for my race this Saturday, the Lake Sonoma 50 miler. Part of tapering is cutting back miles, resting a lot and letting the body get nice and rested for the long miles ahead. Additionally, I get massage, stretch a lot and if I am feeling sore, take an ice bath or two. The biggest part of taper is nutrition. Making sure you get the right combination of nutrients and the right amount of fuel is key.

I am not a carbo-loader. I don't eat pasta the night before a race. I would prefer steak and potatoes, or steak and rice and a seaweed salad. Tried and true, it is what works for me. When I eat pasta (gluten free of course), I just feel empty. Carbs alone just don't fuel me enough. I have to support them with something.

A well balanced plate.

Even though I am running a lot less than usual on this final taper week, my nutrition is at its best. Race week nutrition is tricky. You have to fuel up to support your upcoming effort, eat the right combination of things to make sure you are recovered from training, all while accounting for the lower calorie needs of a minimal training week. But like I said, during race week, I seem to be at my best. Maybe it is the lack of running that allows me to be more thoughtful about my meals (if that is possible!), or maybe it is just that I know from experience that it really makes a difference.

This week on my plate has been awesome. After spending a week in France, I was really looking forward to cooking at home. The food there was fresh and for the most part light, but I ate three meals a day at the resort where we were located. Not exactly exciting by day 6! On Sunday, the baker and I whipped up a huge pot of Rancho Gordo beans and roasted some chicken with a spicy chili sauce for tacos. I made a nice fresh slaw with pumpkin seeds, radishes, cabbage and lime. The tacos were a perfect way to start of the weeks eating (and nutrition). Well balanced, not too heavy and made for some great leftovers for Monday night's dinner. Lunch stayed the same, a huge salad each day which I really enjoyed.

Last night my sister and I had a movie night and I decided to cook up a recipe for Chana Masala,  I had read in A Homemade Life. I followed the recipe with one exception. I added cauliflower. A whole head of it after the tomatoes were added. I wanted, no needed more vegetables on my plate. And man was it delicious! I cooked everything until the cauliflower was tender and then served over coconut rice (rice cooked with 1 part light coconut milk, 1 part water: so if you use 1 cup of rice, use 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup water). On the side was something that made me want to cry because I couldn't have seconds. Garlic Lemon Spinach. There had been some great local fresh spinach at the shop and it definitely trumped the frozen spinach I had thought to use. I cooked up 2-3 cloves of garlic in 1 part butter, 1 part olive oil until they started to brown, then I tossed in the spinach and a tbsp of water, put the top on and gave it a shake. Once it was cooked, I added sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. I am telling you, I would have eaten just a huge plate of that. So good. Well, I take it back the Chana Masala was amazing. Spicy, complex, flavorful. I of course followed up this meal with ice cream. Some people religiously cut out things during taper week, I deliberately add them back in because I am trying to make sure I have no calorie deficit during the week. I like to train low, race high. That is not to say I go crazy during taper week, I am sensible, not overly restrictive.

To wit, I made cookies today! Teff Peanut Butter cookies. I didn't use oil, I used melted butter. And they were pretty dang good, though surprisingly less peanut buttery than I imagined. I made them quite small so that I could indulge guilt free. It's a fine line. I want to arrive at the start line with my body fueled correctly but physically feeling fit and light. For me, I know that too many grains cause me to retain water and retention of water does not lead to feeling fit and ready to fight. These little buggers were a good compromise of nutrition and indulgence.

I have been harboring a corned beef in my freezer while I was gone. A first cut, organic beautiful corned beef that I couldn't wait to cook. As I was out of town for St. Patty's day, I decided to cook it up this week to make sure I was getting in my protein. It's Wednesday and I haven't eaten meat yet this week. So tonight, I am going to whip it up along with some cabbage, mustard roasted potatoes and serve it all with some gluten free irish soda bread.

I don't believe I have ever had Irish Soda bread, let alone Gluten Free Irish Soda bread. So I consulted a few sources and went at it. In the end I combined two of my favorite gluten free bloggers recipes and created my own. The loaf came out nicely. Somewhat like a scone, fragrant of caraway seeds and dotted with soaked currants. Next time, I think I will soak the currants in something further infusing flavor. This adaptation is more of a half followed one recipe, half followed the other. I combined one's suggested dry ingredients with an adaptation of the other's wet. Seems to have worked out well. As I said, I have never had soda bread, so creating an idea from scratch was out of the question. But I improvised a great deal by doing this combination, so it would be interesting to compare. I am really looking forward to having a small slice of this bread tonight with a good balance of vegetables and meat (and mustard and horseradish!!!).


  1. Brown rice is not good because it takes the body too much energy to break down. The night before a race I go with white rice. Easy to break down and absorb.

  2. LOL, I never thought I'd have my food philosophy compared to a competitive eater and junk food junkie :). But, you are correct, he does tout the same macronutrient philosophy. He goes with greasy burgers and pizza and I go with more natural foods.

  3. I love all the info about taper week. That's wild about the carbs...I feel the same way but I read that rice isn't a good carb to fuel runs. Not sure why that would be?
    Great food. I bet France was a wonderful experience.

  4. One more thing...I am def. adding you to my blog roll. I've got to get all your tips and trick on training and cooking. I love to cook and I am working on increasing my miles this year. So far I'm up to 16 (last week) and will be doing my first half in April. If all goes well and my enthusiasm lasts, I hope my first marathon will be in Oct.

  5. Bonjour!

    Just read your Mont Ventoux account. Glad you had a gd time there and in France in general. Must be so amazing to take part in such experiences, being abroad, testing gears (in turn for you!) and with other amazing racers... Salomon had given the possibility to take part too (non- super trailers) but I wasnt picked :(

    I really love the redish jacket u have on the pix. I saw it hear but my student budget keeps me from getting it so I stick to the old one Salomon once gave me with other stuff for a short sponsoring...
    Are these the XT wings you have? I prefer the XA Pro 3D.

    Well, now I'm off for some cooking with your taper week suggestions for I also have a race on Sat. Lycka till (good luck) for it!!!

    Take care

  6. Hi, it's Jennifer from Living Harvest Foods. This Irish Soda Bread looks delicious! We will have to try this with our Tempt Hempmilk. Also, I posted a link to this wonderful recipe on our Facebook page if you want to have a look.

  7. Your Chana Masala looks really good. Nice and colourful and packed full of vegetables.

  8. Thanks Mark! I am really glad I added in the cauliflower, really helped add another note to the dish.

  9. Jennifer, I haven't had the pleasure of trying Tempt yet but think it would definitely work well in this recipe. I will keep an eye out for Tempt and try it again next time. There will probably be a next time soon since everyone enjoyed this bread a great deal!


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