Preparing for a weekend triathlon (or any athletic endeavor) can be daunting when you consider the time management and planning necessary to juggle the standard work week, training, recovery, vegan nutrition and other unique considerations. If you, like me, have traits that already lean towards the obsessive compulsive, race week will take it to another level in a good way. With both short- and long-term planning, you can relieve some of the inherent stress and focus on your training and nutrition.
Scout the Terrain
By using resources such as the internet, vegan friends and your triathlon group you can learn about the actual course and dining options. My next race is in Boulder, CO and I’m familiar with the area’s vegan options. There is a Native Foods Café in the heart of town; if you are lucky a Native Foods will be opening soon your area. After last year’s Boulder 70.3, our post-race meal was at Leaf in downtown Boulder, one of the most delectable restaurants I’ve had the great fortune of visiting. The thought of dinner there again this year, particularly the beet steak and the delectable desserts, will keep me motivated during the run when my energy is lacking and mind starts to wander.
Shopping in advance and bulk cooking is a tremendous way to make race week more efficient and relaxing. Before our last race, we set aside about 3 hours to hit Costco for some bulk items and our local market for specialty ingredients. We prepared two large meals with the first being a gluten-free pasta with mushrooms, zucchini and squash featuring an avocado pesto sauce. While about 6 cups of rice were simmering in the pressure cooker, I prepared a kitchen sink stir fry with mixed veggies, bok choy, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and loads of garlic and gluten-free teriyaki sauce. In addition, we were prepared for healthy snacking and sides with plenty of greens for salads and smoothies, hummus and veggies, Ezekial bread, almond butter, dates, apricots, apples and figs. During the week, when schedules were hectic, the only things we prepared were smoothies in the Vitamix and cocoa-avocado pudding that is good for any occasion.
Although I don’t expect to be punching my ticket to Kona any time in the immediate future, when my race begins, I want to push myself as much as possible. Once the competitive spirit and camaraderie of the Ironman grabs ahold of you, it’s impossible to not test your limits both physically and mentally. Proper fueling before and during the race will help you shatter limits. Still being fairly new to triathlons, I’m still learning what works best for me. Through trial and error I’ve learned that a meal with lots of greens doesn’t work the night before a race or ride. Like many vegans, I find quinoa to be a magical superfood that can be used in a number of scenarios. Whether it’s the night or morning before a race, it combines easily with veggies, avocado and sweet potatoes or blueberries, some almond milk and chia seed pudding. You might consider a food journal to keep notes regarding what plant-powered foods agree with your body during the various training cycles.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of nutrition, recovery, training, gear maintenance, travel logistics and competing, it is important to remember to have fun with it all. Races like the Ironman can put a significant dent in the pocketbook and if fun isn’t part of the end result, perhaps some reevaluation is necessary. Even if your race numbers aren’t what you’d hoped for, enjoy the process and take pride in what you are doing for yourself, animals and the environment as a plant-powered athlete!