The carboload. In high school, I basically used this as an excuse to go eat a lot of spaghetti with my friends the night before a running race. In the morning I’d have one (or maybe two) bagels with peanut butter, and then again at lunch find some more pasta. Finally, a cliff bar before the race. As it turns out, most efforts under one hour don’t require an extensive carboloading. But I was just laying the groundwork for my 24 year old self as she embarks on her first Birkie.
There are a lot of variables one cannot control come Birkie day. You can’t control the snow, the course, the temperatures or your competitors. What you can control is your preparation, a big component of which is proper fueling. As someone who has hit the wall spectacularly in an endurance event (the 2014 Boston Marathon), I do not want the same thing to happen in just under two weeks. Naturally, I turned to the internet.
To reach your potential on race day, your body needs glycogen filled muscles. Glycogen (a which should remind you of carbohydrates and sugar) is stored in your muscles for energy. When you hit the wall, it is simply because your body has run out of glycogen stores. And in an event like the Birkie- which lasts anywhere from two to eight hours- you cannot take in enough glycogen during the event to offset the rate of glycogen loss. Similarly, your normal diet will likely not consist of enough carbohydrates to happily see you to the end of Main Street.
And this is where my 24 year old self thanks my high school self for being good at eating carbohydrates. A study by Benjamin Rapoport (A Harvard M.D. who hit a wall during a marathon, and later decided to figure out exactly how to avoid that fate) devised a formula for helping marathon runners determine exactly how many excess carbohydrates to eat during their carboload (typically 4 days out from the main event). While not exactly transferrable to skiing, it does provide a solid baseline for your extra carbohydrate consumption. For example, using this calculator a very fast male in the elite wave needs to eat just south of 3,000 EXTRA carbohydrate based calories before race day (If you want to calculate how much you need, enter in your weight, age, heart rate and goal Birkie time. No, it is not going to be a perfect number, but you will get a ballpark carbohydrate goal http://endurancecalculator.com/EnduranceCalculatorForm.html).
With these extra glycogen stores, this male can expect to gain up to four pounds come race day (every one gram of extra carbohydrate stored brings with it three grams of extra water weight*). But by the time he crosses Main Street (hopefully with a new slumberland mattress and 10,000 extra dollars), he will be back down to his pre-carboloading weight.
So the trick, then, is to come up with a way to eat a lot of carbohydrates without feeling weighted down. And preferably in a delicious form (although eating cups and cups of brown rice would also do the trick).
Introducing the Sweet Potato Brown Rice Savory Waffle. This baby packs a healthy one-two carbohydrate punch. In addition to the sweet potatoes and the brown rice, the recipe calls for antioxidant rich Kale and flour. For the flour, use the freshest milled flour you can find. And if you’re gluten free, I’m sure any gluten free flour mix would substitute beautifully. I’ve topped this savory waffle with just about everything, but some personal favorites include bacon, eggs, yogurt, nut butter or jam. I’ve had these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These would be great to make in a big batch, and then freeze any extras. Just pop them in the toaster whenever you need an extra carbohydrate boost, or even bring them on the bus with you as you make your way to the start line. If you don’t have a waffle iron, make these as pancakes. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato, Brown Rice, and Kale Savory Waffle
From the Birchwood Cookbook
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 large eggs
3 leaves kale (shredded, tough stems removed)
Butter or olive oil (for greasing your waffle iron or pan)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke holes allover the potaotes, and roast for about 60 minutes (until very tender). Let cool. Once cool, peel the sweet potatoes and place in medium sized bowl and smash until smooth
- In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl combine the milk and eggs. Add the egg mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes. Then stir the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture, adding the brown rice and kale.
- Set your oven to “warm” and heat up your waffle iron. Lightly grease your iron, and pour in batter, cooking until golden and lightly browned (around 6 minutes). Put cooked waffle on baking sheet and keep warm in oven, and repeat with remaining batter.