What to Wear Skiing in the Extreme Cold

by Brian Gregg

Brian is a 2014 Olympian, races for Team Gregg/Madshus and resides in Minneapolis, MN. 

There is a saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. Subzero temperatures can be enough to keep you indoors on a brisk Winter day, but perhaps you have been planning all week for a weekend ski trip, or you have been training for weeks for a particular race. I have found that with the right equipment you can have a great day of skiing even on the coldest of days. I adhere to the FIS minimum temperature cut off of -4F for racing, but will ski in any temperature. Here are some tips to be able to enjoy even the chilliest of days.

WARM FEET

Our feet can swell in the cold and you don’t want any constriction of circulation. If you live in a super cold climate you may want to consider getting boots that fit a bit large. One trick for the random frigid day is to simply remove the insoles from your boots. I choose a medium thick pair of merino wool socks. If you choose too thick of a sock you risk not having enough volume in your boot and reducing circulation. Make sure your socks are clean as that will mean the fibers can insulate and wick moisture best. I have found that my feet tend to sweat more in fully synthetic socks and when the sweat freezes it is bad news. If space allows in your boots I am also a big fan of chemical toe warmers. Be sure to activate the warmers with plenty of time before you head outdoors. Another product to consider is over boots which zip over your regular ski boots. I recommend sizing these slightly larger than your boots so that they aren’t too difficult to take on or off. With warm feet you will have better balance and a better experience skiing. 

WARM HANDS

The simple answer to warm hands is to wear thick gloves. Mittens and split finger ‘lobster mitts’ can be good options. The challenge with this is that it can often become tricky to grip your pole or even fit your hand into your pole strap. Personally I prefer to wear my regular gloves and to add an Overmitt. The Overmitt is added after you put your poles on and goes over your pole strap so that you still have the normal feel of your grip. Many cold days I start skiing using this setup until my hands are toasty warm. Then, the overmitts can be quickly removed and tossed to the side or stuffed in a jacket even without taking your poles off. Chemical hand warmers can also work well and I usually store them activated in my gloves on my way to the ski trail so that they heat the gloves up. I position the hand warmers on the backs of my hand so that they don’t affect the grip and feel of the pole handle.

WARM UPPER BODY

A long sleeved base layer is a must on cold days. On windy days I sometimes opt for one that has built in wind stopper on the front. For additional heat I may add a vest either under or over my regular training jacket. On extremely cold days I will often start my ski with a down jacket over everything. With so many layers it can be a good idea to bring a small backpack to be able to stash clothes if you get too warm. It is important to not get to the point where you are sweating because that will make you really cold when the sweat freezes. 

WARM LOWER BODY

A must for men in cold weather is a pair of wind briefs. These are special underwear with a layer of wind stopper on the front. It may not be a bad idea to double down with a full length base layer that also has wind stopper in the front although usually a full length base layer or pair of tights followed by a pair of ski pants will do the trick.

WARM HEAD?

Balaclavas are great in cold weather, and so are buffs. I like to use both or two buffs so that I can have one that covers the part of my ears that my hat may miss and one that sits around my neck. You may also breathe through the buff to warm the air a bit before it hits your lungs. Another helpful product is the AirTrim face mask which has various sized filters for different skiing intensities and is designed to fit comfortably. The idea here is that the air heats up as it passes through the filter.

I prefer to have as little exposed skin to the elements as possible. I will put tape on my skin to protect it from the elements. You may cut KT tape to fit, or for a simpler option use AntiFreeze face tape which is pre-cut. Another option for exposed skin is to apply a balm such as Dermatone or WarmSkin. For eye protection I find that most sunglasses fog and freeze, I have had the best luck with shields on cold days. 

SKATE OR CLASSIC

Cold temperatures make for some very sharp snow crystals which aren’t the easiest to glide on. This is a great time to classic ski as it can be very easy to get a lot of kick. Ski in the track behind someone else as the person in front will help warm up the snow for the skier in back. Make sure your skis are prepared ahead of time so that you aren’t out in the cold applying wax or indoors at the lodge sweating with all of your cold weather clothes on. If you are waiting on a friend consider skiing out and come back to meet them so that your body doesn’t cool down.

DRINK AND EAT

When you can see your breath in cold weather you are actually seeing the moisture from your breath freezing. Remember to stay well hydrated, insulated drink belts may be your best bet, but sometimes even they freeze. Consider a good insulated container such as a Hydroflask filled with hot tea, chocolate, coffee of sports drink. Your body will be using energy to stay warm so make sure it has plenty of it. Keep your snacks warm in a pocket as they are likely to freeze themselves which can make them difficult to consume.

The key to enjoying skiing in the extreme cold is to have the proper equipment for you. You may need more or less than a friend.  Take note of the air temperature, humidity and wind chill during cold days and what you are wearing. I make a little chart for myself so that I know the layers that I am most likely going to want to wear so that I can enjoy a cold day on the ski trail.

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Brian Gregg’s Personal Equipment Guide for Various Temperatures

 

The Future of Cross-Country Skiing and Proposals how to Streamline the Competition Program

Pierre Mignerey, FIS Cross-Country Race Director gave an interview to www.xc-ski.de about the future of Cross-Country Skiing and proposals how to streamline the competition programme.

Pierre, there are rumours that there will be major changes to the competition formats after this season. First of all, who drew up these proposals and what was the motivation for thinking about changing the competition formats?

First of all, this is not a new topic. The Cross-Country family has been discussing race formats for a few years now. The world is constantly changing and every human activity needs to adapt. Cross-Country Skiing like all the other sports needs to take into consideration the expectations of all the stakeholders and it is now time for us to make some decisions. We can not only speak for ever.

That being said I don’t know if there will be any changes and how far we will go. At the moment there is a proposal on the table as the basis for future discussions and evaluations. In any case there will not be any “revolution”. Our goal is to streamline and simplify our race program. We want to use our traditions as a base and to make Cross-Country Skiing as attractive as possible for all the key stakeholders (fans, TV viewers, television, sponsors), as well for kids and young skiers.

To answer your question, the current proposal was drawn up by a small group of FIS and FIS Marketing Agency staff after discussions with many different stakeholders over the last two years.

One suggestion is to remove the skiathlon from the programme at major events and replace it with a 30/15km pursuit start. The pursuit event would be based on the results from the individual 10/15km competitions. Isn’t this a step backwards if you cut one of the most innovative formats from recent years?

I don’t think that this is a step backwards and I don’t think that this is the right question. Our proposal is based on a variety of analysis, concrete facts and as much as possible on impartial arguments. It is definitely not easy, sometimes even painful to remove a format from the programme. But at the same time it is necessary. If we want to change our sport, we cannot always create new formats, implement new distances, new elements in our World Cup calendar. We are convinced that Cross-Country Skiing must be easy to understand for the largest possible audience.

What are the special reasons for thinking about cutting the skiathlon?

We have tried to look at the plus & minus for each format and our conclusion is that in the case of Skiathlon the balance tilts more on the minus side. Skiathlon was introduced to bring both techniques together in one race and to create lead changes, race drama after the ski exchange. The concept is good but it doesn’t really work and for the most part of the skiathlon has become nothing more than a Mass Start with a ski exchange in the middle of the race.

Skiathlon is very demanding in terms of infrastructure, courses, stadium and snow: we need two separate course systems, a wide and long stadium and pit boxes. The consequences are that only a few venues can properly organise this format and that we have huge technical requirements, which are used only for one race format.

Skiathlon is also demanding in terms of skiing equipment and waxing with some expensive consequences for skiers and teams: specific equipment, more wax, more testing and more staff. This is probably even a bigger problem at the junior and COC level.
At the World Cup level we have to also mention the extensive TV production costs generated by the necessity of having 2 separate course systems, we need to have more TV cameras, more manpower, etc.

Additionally, this format is properly working only once a year at the WSC or OWG. Skiathlon doesn’t really fit in the World Cup program and we strongly believe that the title events should be the base of the World Cup program with the exception of the 30-50km. Skiathlon is also almost not used anymore at lower level such as COC or national competitions.

So to summarize there is a long list of “minus” for this format and it is pretty clear that the “price/quality” ratio is not high enough to maintain skiathlon in our race programme. In a world more and more focused on sustainability and cost control we believe that it is important to take into consideration also the environmental and financial aspects.

A second major break could be the cut of classic sprints. What are the considerations behind this possible step?

There are several arguments behind this proposal, which is based on detailed analysis.

First of all, we strongly believe that Cross-Country Skiing needs to be, and can be more attractive for kids and young athletes. Today there are a lot of attractive formats such as XCX (Cross-Country Cross) organised for the kids in many countries. But what we have been missing is the link between these formats and competitions at the top level. We need a better connection between what kids do, what they can see on TV and what their stars are doing. We all know the power of YouTube, social media and TV pictures. Some people would like to introduce the XCX as a new format.

From our point of view it makes more sense to integrate some technical elements in our existing sprint competitions. We are not speaking here about artificial elements. We would like to play more with the terrain, with waves, banked curves or even small jumps. Obviously it is almost impossible to implement these elements in classic technique.

In addition, the evolution of classic technique is each year creating challenges in sprint competitions. On the World Cup level we still have a few good sprint classic courses but what about competitions at the lower level, for kids and youth? It has become more and more difficult to guarantee fair competitions. One of our main principles is that Cross-Country Skiing must not become a sport where the Jury decides the final result.

It is also a fact that sprint courses are basically designed around a stadium with 1 or 2 uphills. It is a challenge to find proper climbs not far away from our stadiums. The consequence is that classic sprints will be more and more only double poling with running on skis. Is it really where we want to go? Is it the best way to promote the coexistence of both techniques and especially of diagonal technique? We don’t think so.

Finally, we believe that in terms of idea of a sprint means speed. And when you want to go fast, you are using the fastest possible technique and that’s skating.

Isn’t this the beginning of the end of classic technique?

We strongly believe that having two techniques is a part of our DNA and that our race programme should include both techniques. But I’m convinced that the best possible way to preserve and promote the diagonal technique but also as a consequence for the classic technique is to concentrate our efforts on the most favourable formats and the most favourable venues. Maybe less classic technique but higher quality will be much more efficient than a dogmatic 50-50% rule in all formats and/or all seasons, all competition levels.

If one day we need to stop competing in classic technique, I don’t think that it will be right to say that the beginning of the end was when we have decided to race sprints only in free technique.
Yes, we are facing some challenges with classic technique. I think the correct description would be the disappearance of diagonal technique, but we need to choose a pragmatic approach without dogma.

Proposal three is the introduction of a mixed team sprint. Does this mean that you cut a medal event (if there’s only one team sprint and not for both sexes separate) at the Olympics?

The opportunity to replace the team sprint per gender with a mixed team sprint needs further evaluation.
Yes, the Cross-Country discipline would lose one medal event at Olympics and World Championships, however, our athletes will not lose anything. Each individual athlete would still have the same potential number of medals.

The biggest challenge would be on the World Cup level. Having only one relatively short event on competition day would create challenges for the organizers and their financial income. One competition means less income. One race means also a shorter entertainment platform for the spectators on site.

On the other hand, mixed team events have become very popular and might help more nations to participate and have good results. As you know, having more nations participating and competitive at the highest level is one of the key goals for the future.

The decision must take all these aspects into consideration but if we collectively believe that our discipline will have a benefit with a mixed team sprint, I don’t think that we should be afraid to lose a medal.

When will the proposals be decided and who is involved in the decision?

The current proposal will serve as the base for further discussions during the upcoming winter. We also need to discuss it with the International Olympic Committee and the World Ski Championships rights holder and other stakeholders. Then we will see what should be adjusted and how flexible we can be and then establish a final proposal for the next FIS Congress. Implementation of any potential changes would take some time. Nothing will be immediate.

How to Taper and Rest Between Marathons

Q: I’m an avid ski racer and most of my races throughout the ski season are marathon (~50km) skate races. This season I have been thinking more about how to properly taper and rest between marathons without loosing fitness. For example, ski the Birkie, followed by a two week break until the Yellowstone Rendezvous. I’m hoping to feel fast at the Birkie, and peak for the Rendezvous. What types of workouts do you recommend to make sure I recover from the Birkie but peak (instead of loosing fitness) going in to the Rendezvous? I’m very comfortable with interval training, but am not sure what types of intervals (duration/ intensity/ reps), if any, are appropriate in this late phase of the season.

A: First of all I am impressed that you are prioritizing a race in your schedule. It is easy to want to do well in every race you enter, but prioritizing one race each month can help you to have a truly great race rather than a bunch of so-so races.

I would recommend maintaining your average training load up until Tuesday before the Birkie, then I would recommend reducing your training load by 50 percent for the next three days.

Keep the training frequency the same, but just make each workout a lower load. If you normally ski for an hour, just go for a half hour. If you normally do 6*4 minute intervals, do 3*4 minute intervals. Maintaining the workout frequency will help you to still get the hormonal and physiological benefits of the training but the lower load should help you feel good and fresh for the race.

You will not loose any fitness over three easy days. After the Birkie, feel free to take a day or two off, or better yet get out for a super slow recovery ski, walk, bike, yoga or jog. Keep the intensity super low as the purpose of any training is to help your body recover. Hopefully by Wednesday you will begin to feel good again. Resume your normal training load and frequency.  Since you have already had a hard race effort, I would recommend threshold interval workouts with burst of speed thrown in. A favorite of mine is 6*8 minutes at level 3 with 2*15 second bursts in each interval. The focus of this workout is helping your body to buffer lactic acid and to improve your comfort and technique at speed. If you still feel the load from the Birkie, just do easy distance skiing with 10 x 8-12 second bursts of speed at 10 km race pace. Give yourself a good 2-3 minutes between each burst. The entire week of your target race drop your training load by 50%. If you get that restless feeling, that is a good thing, just save that energy for the race.

March is one of the most fun times to be a skier as you can essentially rest and race.

Good luck,

Brian Gregg
www.facebook.com/GoTeamGregg


Brian Gregg

How to Peak for Racing for Beginners

by Karmen M. Whitham, CXC Skiing

My suggestion for any relatively new cross-country ski racer is to build the endurance foundation first, with A LOT of true level 1 volume. The time to do this is in the spring and summer and then come back to it for a short period after the fall intensity block. This allows you to put in major hours on snow and absorb the work you’ve just put in from your intensity training. Paying attention to the aerobic foundation is paramount at the beginning of your skiing career because it builds a foundation of fitness that acts as a spring board for anaerobic training. It’s the difference between building a house with a cement basement “foundation” vs. just sticking some plywood and drywall into the dirt. You’ve got to have something to keep you strong and stable.

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There is a caveat of losing speed however. Therefore, it is advised that you add simple speeds (fartlek) to your distance workouts. For junior athletes I like to surprise them with 15-30 second sprints during distance or over-distance workouts. I like this method because it also creates playful competition which reminds us why we love to mess around on skis in the first place. Alternatively, you can strategically plan sprints into distance workouts, for example, add 5×30 second speeds (take a minute between each to get the heart rate back to level 1) in the middle of a 2- hour ski or run.

If you keep distance workouts (with speeds) as the foundation of your training (4-6x a week) and add level 3 and level 4 workouts 2-3 times a week, you should not jeopardize your endurance capacity. In training blocks where level 3 and 4 are the primary focus, make sure you are still doing one over-distance workout per week. These workouts are designed to be at true level 1 in order to build mitochondria for oxygen transportation thus maintaining your aerobic fitness.

As for sprint workouts that are effective, I’m a big fan of “mock-sprint days” where you have a qualifier, and three more sprints after that with about 5-minutes of active recovery between them. Not only does this help build anaerobic fitness it also sets an environment for mental preparedness that will get the athlete ready for sprint competitions. Otherwise 1-km relays, time-based ladders, and distance based ladders are other ways to construct sprint, level 4 and level 3 intervals to promote anaerobic capabilities.

To train to be a cross-country skier means you are creating fitness in every aspect of human performance. You should think of training as an interplay between strengthening the aerobic and anaerobic systems as opposed to training either exclusively. That said, you may shift your attention to simply emphasize one system over the other, to coincide with the goal of your respective training period.

Surviving Sub-Zero Marathons (and other chilly encounters)

By: CXC Team Member, Andy Brown 

The 2013-2014 polar vortex taught me several, quite literally, painful lessons about what works and what doesn’t when the temperatures really bottom out. Everyone is an individual and has a different internal furnace and circulation, but these are the things that have worked for me.

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1. A light hat and a buff are basically mandatory when things are 5 degrees or colder. If things get really cold, a single buff is generally too thin and I like to switch to a thin balaclava. Balaclavas are shaped to fit your neck better and don’t bunch up quite as bad as two buffs. You don’t need much of a hat when it’s doubled up with a buff/balaclava and too thick of a hat will just make you sweat.

2. Breathing cold air, especially during hard exertions can hurt your lungs. The worst my lungs ever felt was after a 10k at zero degrees in which I wore a headband. Keeping your throat warm with a buff or balaclava really can help to prevent this. If it is truly arctic conditions the AirTrim breathing masks are the best solution. They look dangerously uncool, but it beats permanently damaging lung tissue.

3. Glasses are a no brainer and a must for cold conditions. They not only keep your corneas from freezing, but protect a fairly large portion of your face. Plus who likes getting snow in their eyes?

4. For the parts of your face not protected by your buff of glasses, Dermatone/vaseline and Warm Skin are great. For many people they are enough to keep frostbite at bay. If you have gotten frostbite before, I highly recommend moleskin at least on your cheeks. It looks weird but really does work. Put it on dry skin before any lotion to ensure it sticks. You can generally find it in the footcare/orthotic section of a store.

5. If you are prone to cold feet, boot covers are great. I generally don’t race in them, but they are nice for keeping your feet warm before the race. Don’t go crazy trying to jam extra socks in your ski boots, you’ll just restrict circulation.

6. For gloves it’s all about windstopper. Having normal size windproof gloves beat bulky mitts all the time. If you really get cold hands, Toko has sweet overmitts that block the wind and go on over your pole straps so they don’t mess up your strap adjustment. Also be careful at feeds not to splash liquid your gloves or you’ll freeze a finger or two.

7. To keep the rest of your body warm, windproof baselayers are great and can eliminate extra clothes that otherwise will make you feel bound up and inflexible. Craft makes several nice models. If all you have are normal long underwear adding duct tape to the front for the knees and over the groin makes a huge difference. It is under the suit and no one will notice

8. For guys, windbriefs. You want two layers of wind stopping material somewhere in your layers, especially for skate races. Ignore this rule at your own peril (and maybe that of your future offspring). An extra buff can also be stuffed down there in an emergency.

9. Feeding during a race in cold conditions can be problematic. I’ve poured boiling water into a drink bottle at the start of the Vasaloppet, only to have it turn into a solid block of ice by 30k. Energy gels also become impossible to eat if they freeze. For the most part I no longer bother trying to keep a bottle with me when it’s below zero. Instead I depend on aid stations and team support along the trail to give me warm fluids. I still carry energy gels, but I tape them inside my waistband where they stay warm enough to eat.

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Alexander Legkov: Nutrition Advise for Marathon Skiers

Olympic Champion 50 Km free style, Sochi-2014, Alexander Legkov gives his nutrition recommendations for long distance marathon skiing.

Aleksandr Legkov

Marathon nutrition is very important. It is important to constantly eat during a race, practically from the start. After first 5 km, even if you don’t want to drink, it is still important to do so. I would recommend sport drinks with high percentage of carbohydrates. You can get additional energy from them right from the get go.

– How often do you drink during a race?

Nowadays loops  are shorter, maximum two different fives, and usually between them you still cross the stadium. So it is important to try to drink every five km. Often a racer has a misleading feeling that he/she still has a lot of energy, but as a rule, the energy runs out quickly and unexpectedly. To avoid that, it is important to fill yourself up with carbohydrates.

– What exactly do you drink during a race? Do you use anything else besides drinks?

I drink a standard carbs drink, almost every sport nutrition company has it. Every racer can pick his/her favorite. Also energy drinks that contain necessary salts and minerals are very useful.  They replace what is lost during sweating. I would like to point out that you need to figure out the right consistency of your drink beforehand, so it is not too runny, and not too thick, so you would not feel the need to flush it down with something else after. Before 40 km I drink a carbohydrate beverage, and closer to the end of a race I drink fizz free coco-cola mixed with a pretty strong coffee. That mixture opens my eyes, gives me an energy boost and this is exactly what I need before the finish. Sometimes during races I also use energy gels. Gels need to be eaten right before the food station, so you can follow with something liquid.

– What are the servings of drinks and what temperature should they be?

Ideally all the drinks need to be warm: not too hot, and not too cold, so they would go in pleasantly and easy. There are many things to consider when we talk about quantity. It all depends on how you feel, how the race is going. As a rule, I ask to pour a little too much then needed, I take one-two sips, and if anything is left, I just throw a bottle away. It is also important to have the right containers – no cups. The most comfortable ones are the small plastic bottles from a drinkable yogurt for example. Optimal neck width – the same as on Swix belt containers.

– It is not a secret, that marathon nutrition is not only food during a race, but a diet before the start…

In professional sport, as far as I know, no one follows any special diet. I am not an exception, and before the marathon start I eat the same as before other races. The matter of fact,  50-km distance became so fast nowadays, that it is not much different from other shorter distances. Two-three days before the marathon I would recommend to eat food containing lots of carbs, for example pasta.

– This spring you are planning to ski super marathons, like 90-km Vasaloppet.This distance is quite a bit longer, then those two hours that you usually spend on 50-km. How are you going to eat there?

My advice would have been more valuable if I had done the race and had the experience. Right now I can not imagine what it even is and what is waiting for me there. As for now, I have the same idea in my head: drink carbohydrate drinks as much and as often as possible, not to allow the body to become depleted.

– What do you usually eat for breakfast before the race?

First of all, it is cereal! It is possible to have it anywhere. I try to get a very large serving, and finish it too, because it digests very quickly and it is not in the way during a race. Ideally, cereal is best made with water, not milk. Also, if possible, it is very good to eat some bread with red caviar. Even now, it is not a huge luxury, but it is very nutritional. Muesli, cottage cheese, honey are also good, anything that gives you energy.

– What would you NOT recommend doing before or during a race?

I would not recommend eating lots of spicy or fatty foods before the race, so the liver does not get stressed out. The rest does not need to be limited in my opinion.

Source: www.skisport.ru

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What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

by Beth Skwarecki

So you’ve decided to tackle an endurance race—maybe a marathon or half marathon, maybe a triathlon, century ride, all-day hike, or some other multi-hour effort. Of the many tough decisions you’ll make that day, one of the first is: What should you eat for breakfast?

There’s only one right answer, in a sense, and that is: Whatever you practiced during your training. Race day is not the time to try anything new, because you’ll be living with the consequences for several (possibly agonizing) hours. Still, you have to start somewhere, so here are some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind to prepare the best breakfasts.

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Keep Your Guts Happy

Exercise, and especially running, can make your guts unhappy. Digestion can result in uncomfortable bubbling, and meals that digest slowly—which means especially large or fatty ones—can feel heavy in your stomach.

Small meals give your body less to digest at a time, increasing the chance that food will be out of your stomach and into your small intestine by race time. Food in your stomach tends to be the least comfortable. Once it’s in your small intestine, you can efficiently absorb the sugars and other nutrients in the meal.

Carbohydrates (like sugars and starches) tend to make it through the stomach the fastest, so they make for a “light” meal. Liquid foods move through even more quickly.

Carbohydrates may increase your chances of GI distress (nausea, flatulence, diarrhea); some athletes swear they get symptoms from eating too much sugar (like combining Gatorade and gels), but the situation may be more complicated.

Ultimately, what upsets someone else’s stomach may not upset yours. Responses to different foods are personal, so experimentation is key. Try a new breakfast on a short run day, then on a long run day, before deciding it’s safe for your race. In other words, trust your gut.

Manage Your Time

Most races and endurance events start in the morning, so you’re already getting up early and dealing with a million tiny things. (Where are my safety pins? Which roads will be closed? Did I remember to put BodyGlide everywhere?)

Race morning breakfasts are, for almost every athlete I know, something that’s quick and easy to prepare. Make sure to shop the night before so you have those bagels and bananas handy, or consider a make-ahead recipe like overnight oats that you can grab on your way out the door.

You’ll want to consider the amount of time it takes to begin digesting the meal. Most runners I know will eat their breakfast about 2 hours before the race’s start time, to be sure they won’t be running with a heavy stomach. If you’re pinched for time, liquid calories like a smoothie or a cup of gatorade will digest quickly, and could make a good last-minute breakfast or a post-breakfast snack to carry with you to the start line.

Hydration should factor into your schedule, too. Rather than chugging water right before the race (which could leave you looking for a porta-potty when none are to be found), you’re better off drinking lots of water in the days leading up to the race. To schedule that other important bathroom duty, consider drinking hot tea or coffee (or even hot water) to make yourself poop. (Make sure to practice this on training days to be sure you have your timing down!)

Some Winning Breakfasts

Here are some classic runners’ breakfasts, along with what makes them so great:

  • Peanut butter on toast: Provides carbs, along with a little fat and protein to slow down digestion so you won’t feel hungry while you’re lining up at the start. Because of the digestion time, fans of peanut butter either have it in small doses, or recommend eating it at least two hours before the start.
  • Bananas: A good source of carbs (mainly sugar) with just a little fiber to slow it down, and some potassium for good measure. (Some runners swear potassium staves off cramps, although the science isn’t clear on that.)
  • Coffee: In addition to helping you poop, coffee is good for a caffeine boost that can help athletic performance. Keep the amount within the limits of what your body is able to handle—another key area to experiment.
  • Oatmeal, overnight or otherwise: Oats are both a good source of carbs and a great vehicle for your favorite type and amount of proteins, fats, and fruits. Have it hot, or try cold oats made the day before, which you can pack into a jar for a portable breakfast.
  • Bacon and eggs: These break the rules (unless you’re used to exercising on a ketogenic diet), but it’s possible to work these into your morning if you get up early enough to have time to digest it all, or if you keep the amounts small (for example, a little bacon with your toast and banana).

Any breakfast can be a great one for race day if it’s something that works for your body, but now you know some of the ground rules for building a great pre-race meal. Athletes out there, what’s your favorite breakfast?

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