Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What fuels you?

Train, recover, compete, repeat. This is the cycle we all follow to keep crossing the line, hopefully each time a little faster and perhaps hurting a little less. How do we do this? There is an endless succession of choices, a multitude of training programs at our fingertips in every magazine and on every triathlon web site.

Personally, I just do what I can when I can - I'm not good with schedules. As a triathlete it's even harder with three sports to conquer simultaneously. Then there's race day. Is this the big one, the one you've been gunning for? Or is it another race in a long season where you hope to finish well and gain strength and experience for the next?

To break down the choices we make on a daily basis from training through competition is overwhelming. Each one is important, at least to us. Gear selection and utilization in endurance sports is enough to overload any seasoned athlete. Volumes are filled with the analysis of weight, wind resistance and performance. Like everything, these choices are individual. And the choices are in the thousands.

Then there is nutrition.

Nutrition was something I was already passionate about before coming into multi-sport. Though there may be some lucky athletes who perform well on hamburgers and pizza, I'm not one of those.

I try to be pretty strict in my diet, limiting sugars and non-essential foods. Fortunately, I love vegetables and lean meat. But I miss donuts. When I see a donut shop it tries to pull me in. But when I remember the effort required to undo the indulgence, I move on. I look to find strength and confidence in what I eat. With each meal I try to guarantee my performance, actually hoping that somehow my fitness improves with each bite. Nobody is perfect, least of all me. I can start each day right and easily falter as the day goes on. But I start fresh every day.

My breakfast, though it took some time getting used to, has become a powerful fuel to energize my morning. It's a recipe suggested by a friend that I've modified somewhat.
- 3/4 cup egg whites
- 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
- vanilla extract, stevia powder, cocoa, coconut, espresso, nuts etc. to taste

In a microwave safe container, cook for 2 minutes at (1) one minute and (2) thirty second intervals to allow for settling.

Together with some coffee and a glass of water, I'm set up good. Though I eat 6 meals a day, I feel this is the most important. There's enough protein and complex carbohydrates to give me my early day energy. When I do events out of town, this is something I can mix up the day before and cook in the hotel microwave - in fact it usually tastes better after it's been soaking for a day!

I'm sure there are other meal options that could work, but I know this works for me because it gives me confidence that I have been fueled up for the first part of my day.

What works for you? What's your formula for success? Is there a meal or snack that you can't do without?

- Riley

Riley is playing the part of Endurance Athlete Project's foreign correspondent this week, reporting in from India where he is traveling with his wife.


  1. oatmeal with fruit every morning. however, i am really working on my nutrition for the rest of the day. with 2 young kids, i fall back on too many junk food choices. i NEED to change my habits.

  2. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. One of my favorites is oatmeal with a tablespoon of almond butter w/ roasted flaxseeds. yum!

  3. I have to have fruit throughout the day; without it, I get sugar cravings and nibble at anything and everything.

    I hate breakfast and, with my two guys, I make feeding them and getting us out the door a priority. While not the best choice, I use a healthy dinner as fuel for race day morning - and it works.

  4. I absolutely can't live without my breakfast:

    toasted bread with peanut or other nut butter, with slices of banana on it
    glass of half chocolate, half plain soymilk (otherwise it is too sweet)
    half a multivitamin (a full one and i'm peeing neon yellow all day!!)

  5. I stopped eating breakfast when I gave up swimming at about age 15. But since getting back on the health wagon about a year ago I never miss breakfast. I generally have porridge or Weetbix with honey and hot water. No milk for me. I also have all my nutritional supplements first thing too. I always try to have a protein shake or bar straight after some form of strenuous activity too.

  6. I love breakfast! One of my favorites is oatmeal with bananas, blueberries, cinnamon, hemp protein powder, ground flax, peanut butter, and milk all cooked together in the microwave! Yum!
    Some things I can't live without are almonds mixed with dried cherries. I love this snack and it is very satisfying! :)