Firstly, as someone mentioned and I agree with wholeheartedly, don’t over think this thing and make yourself panic. Whatever the distance of your race/training might be, just look at it as a longer (or one of your long) runs or rides. Yes, you want to perform at your peak, whether it is a win, podium or PB, but it really is no different to your everyday experience, apart from possibly more intensity. We all tend to panic when it is a race situation, and over think, over drink and overeat (AND we all take ourselves way too seriously – as Peter Sagan says “Why so serious”)
I believe 100% in training fasted, and I do this every weekday (up to 4hr rides), just drinking water or Keto Hyrdo – and make an effort not to eat before I have hit 5hrs on a longer ride on the weekend – and then try to keep the eating down to a bare minimum thereafter. If I am drinking Keto Enduro then I probably will only have a bar for up to 7-8 hrs training. When doing this, one must, however, be cognisant of their recovery, especially on a big ‘back to back’. We all know that intermittent fasting is good for weight loss, but training like this is also great for the mind and learning how far we can push ourselves on very little
Most people eat way too much when they start out on their fitness/race regimes and get caught up with the ‘one per hour/90 minutes’ type of advice that may be written on the back of their preferred gel pack/bar. Training your body (and mind) not to eat while exercising is really easy and like with everything else can be turned into a challenge. When you get hungry, push yourself to another 30 minutes or hour until eating. While this is not a great idea during a race (you don’t want to ‘bonk’) it is a good fun strategy whilst out training and can help break up the boredom. Our minds are so strong and the more you can tap into your mind, the stronger your body (and performance) can be.
In the races I do weight is an important factor (what you’re carrying as well as what the scales say) so the less you have to carry, the easier it becomes. I also believe in eating ‘natural’ so along with your bars and gels, carry something like raw almonds and dates mix (yes, some of those dreaded Carbs ARE needed over a period of time) – homemade date balls with nuts and coconut are also easy and cheap to make and taste amazing after 20 or 40 hours of non-stop peddling. I have a problem with Keto chocolate bars, in that they are a bit like the ‘once you pop, you can’t stop’ scenario and one bite is rarely enough, but these are truly filling, nutritious and delicious! They are, however heavy, so ‘treat as a treat’.
Gary Player famously said ‘the more you practice the luckier you get’ and this is true with our training and our eating. I learn on every endurance event I do and invariably learn more on the ones that go badly than the ones that go well, the secret is to remember what worked and what didn’t, and also to try and improve/tweak the next time.
One of the advantages of getting older (actually there is only ONE advantage) is experience – everyone is different and everyone’s body reacts differently to training, nutrition, and recovery, so read, listen, practice and learn what works for YOU. Use your training sessions to test your nutrition as well as just training your body and you will reap the rewards.
Finally no matter how diligent you may be in training and racing – treat yourself after a race. A PBJ sandwich on white (yes WHITE) bread or heaven forbid a slice of pizza after 60 hrs non-stop racing may just be all it takes to make it seem worthwhile!