NUTRITION AND DRAFTING STRATEGIES FOR LONGER SUP AND PRONE PADDLE RACES
The 2014 Carolina Cup is in the bag. By all accounts, this race is quickly becoming or has become THE race of the early season that all the pros want to do well at and many of the age groupers we talk with are focusing on as their A-priority race. Huge kudos to the event promoters for putting on a professional and extremely well organized event in a killer location. If you missed the race this year – you now have 355 days to get training. Don’t dilly dally.
The Carolina Cup course is a grueling one with chop, headwinds, and current. It is a grueling course that is longer than most SUP races. Therefore, two aspects of the race are critical to success in Carolina.
First, to do well at Carolina you are going to have to learn how to paddle in a draft train. With the rise of Carolina as THE early season race, any discussion as to whether drafting should be allowed in SUP is essentially dead(1). If you want to do well in Carolina you need to know how to draft. In the second article in this series, we will discuss drafting tactics as we saw many paddlers make “rookie” mistakes related to the psychology and tactics of the drafting train.
Second, to do well at Carolina you are going to have to get your nutrition dialed in. We heard from too many paddlers that they blew up before the end of the race. We know many of these paddlers and we know that they did not race to their potential. Even if you are Danny Ching, this race is going to take you nearly 2.5 hours. There is no possible way you can race 2.5 hours on a banana and small bottle of water or Gatorade but that is what some paddlers we talked with tried to do.
As a general rule you need to focus on 3 areas when it comes to race nutrition
- Hydration: if you are going hard 24 oz per hour is ideal if you can swing it
- Sodium: Here is a primer on sodium supplementation
- Calories: We have had good success with maltodextrin based products. Jenny Kalmbach uses Tailwind Sports drinks. Whatever you do, you need more than water in your bottle.
If you fail at any of these three you are not going to race to your potential. As they say “plan to succeed or fail to plan.” The corollary to that statement is that if you do not plan your nutrition you are going to fail. In the Riding Bumps book there is a chapter on race day nutrition. It is outside the scope of this post to recount everything we have in that chapter. If you have not yet read the book – now is your time. We discuss everything from how many calories to eat before the race to what you should
be putting in your Camelbak during the race.
The problem with nutrition is that when things get hectic during a race most racers forget about their nutrition and once you get behind the eight ball it is almost impossible to catch up. Rule #1 with race nutrition is to plan ahead and stick to your plan. For many racers that means eating and drinking on schedule. Do not wait until you are hungry or thirsty. Set a timer and eat and drink like a robot. Remember Consuming a given amount of carbohydrate after two hours of exercise is not as effective as consuming the same amount at 15 to 20 minute intervals during the first two hours of activity.