Twitter: 140 characters or less or comments, jokes, observations, poetry, (for the cyclists among us) race results, news, links, diatribes, and questions. No doubt a lot of other mumbo jumbo thrown into the mix as well, but it’s this last one, questions, that is the focus of today’s entry. Namely someone using the Twitter to ask me a very important question:
@iamtedking what do you eat for breakfast before a race/hard training session??? need some info please bud… Good luck this year
I deduce that you’re not an iamtedking regular, pal. Three consecutive question marks, rules of capitalization tossed out the window, and no final period are signs of being lazy. Alternatively, you’re aware that these errors drive me nuts and you’re therefore spiting me since iamtedking regulars know I prefer these sorts of things well maintained all prim and proper-like. I almost have to lean towards spite since you have the gall to call me, dare I even say it, bud? Presented with this effrontery I might normally ignore the question entirely except for its behemoth magnitude of importance and its need to be addressed. Plus you finish the tweet offering me well wishes, so thank you kindly and I’ll now address the question. Ace.
Fueling the fire, especially early in the day, is what will get you through the lengthier races and arduous training sessions. Standard training might be anywhere in the range of a 90 minute recovery ride to three hours, where a normal breakfast should be sufficient. Normal, of course, is all relative so I recommend a little bit of common sense and discipline here. Eat a bowl of cereal and an orange perhaps on your lesser days rather than opting for the number 4 value meal at McDonalds. Also, don’t be lured to the cannoli bar for breakfast.
Training rides entering the 4-5-6 hour range call for a heartier breakfast and I believe therein lies your question.
All mornings should begin with a steaming cup of coffee. I typically take mine black, so if you’re taking my advice here verbatim, don’t go creaming and sugaring your morning brew. If you’re drinking tea, well that’s fine too, but you’re barking up the wrong tree in the iamtedking book of breaking the fast since I dabble exclusively in coffee. (For those of you about to leave a comment explaining the benefits of tea and the corresponding problems with coffee, save your time and sing your tea praises at Tea Lovers Anonymous, ’cause I ain’t changing.)
After some AM plyometrics and core and amid a piping hot cup of coffee, it’s time to start thinking about the first meal of the day.
More often than not, I go for oatmeal. As for the type, some folks obsess over their steel cut oats; meanwhile I don’t have thirty minutes to spare stirring a pot of oat-slurry, so us normal folks are content with the standard 5 minute oat variety. Heck, I’ll even let the 1 minute quick-oats fly when push comes to shove. During proper training blocks, I’ll probably be in the oatmeal boat 5-6 days per week. Oatmeal is a blank slate so it’s up to you to mix it up and produce something downright delicious. Basically you have fruit, nuts, and spices with which to be creative. Not all three are necessary so again use common sense. If you have a long ride, go with the nuts and fruit or a pair of fruit (…fruits?). Maybe even toss in a spoonful of jelly if you’re feeling extra fruity. Quick example, this morning with four hours and a handful of climbing efforts on the horizon I polished off oatmeal (1 cup water + 1/2 cup oats + dash of salt), five chopped dried dates, and nutmeg. It was wicked.
Cinnamon is always a handy go-to since it pairs with virtually all fruit in my book. Obviously the aforementioned nutmeg works, as does ginger, clove, and allspice. Pumpkin Pie Spice is an amalgamation of all of those, so keeping that in stock isn’t a bad idea.
Fresh or dried fruit both work, but I generally opt for fresh since you can probably guess that it’s unadulterated by preservatives and unnecessary sugar. Fresh diced apples, bananas, peaches, and pears are pretty standard and excellent when tossed with the oats. Mangoes, kiwi, and figs also work well, and then in the dried fruit department raisins, cranberries, again figs, and dates are rad.
In the nut category, a handful of any nut seems to work well. Or for a thicker and more homogenous slurry, use a spoonful of peanut/almond/cashew butter. Go nuts. (Yes, I just said that.)
Up til now, I don’t think any of this is very interesting or inspiring, though. Oatmeal, after all is just oatmeal. So try this on for size: for an added protein blast (with less cholesterol than past decades), crack open an egg and toss that into the pot while everything is bubbling away, give it a quick stir, and your oatmeal will take on an amazing custardy texture and flavor. Additionally with this eggy addition, you might favor for a sweeter flavor so honey, brown sugar, or everyone’s favorite, maple syrup all work magnificently.
Another addition is flax, or specifically ground flax seed. Who knows what the heck it is or does – I think tea people are generally partial to flax, coincidentally – but adding some ground flax will raise the bar for your oatmeal.
When oats aren’t doing it for you, I recommend pancakes. Again, I’m looking for something that’ll stick-to-your-ribs and get you over the hump four or five hours into your training day, cause Lord knows a bowl of Rice Krispies just isn’t going to cut it. Here’s a recipe that I offered sometime last year accompanied by a photo that, while may look like it was taken with an instant Polaroid camera, is actually a multi-hundred dollar piece of technology called a BlackBerry.
To play with the pancake recipe, my favorite is to add pureed pumpkin to the mix. That’s because pumpkin, like fireworks and lottery tickets, make everything much much better.
Other links for your reading pleasure, here’s information about what we were eating during breakfast at the Giro. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Giro; it’s a big bicycle race in Italy. Or a blast from last fall’s Green Mountain Stage Race where my friend Tim Johnson, who coincidentally joined the 21st-century by creating a Facebook account within the past few days, and I stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast and dined on waffles and bananas served on silver platters. Rumor has it Tim is in the midst of copyrighting the waffle-bacon-sandwich, which we all applaud.
With tired fingers, I hope that answers your question, Dude. Eat it up.