We have finally reached the middle of the summer which means training volume is high, intensity is high and if you’re in the east (or Midwest) the humidity is HIGH! This means that EVERYONE needs to take certain precautions with hydration on those hot, steamy days, but athletes, at any level, especially need to prioritize refueling.
My friend/teammate, Jessie Diggins, wrote a blog post last week about the emotional and support side of fueling. Many athletes face challenging relationships with food; this can be in the form of disordered eating or simply not knowing the best way to fuel their bodies. In her blog post (click here), Jessie answers some tricky questions about the conversation and if you, or someone you know, is struggling with a relationship with food then I highly recommend reading it (and seeking professional help if necessary). Jessie and I live together, cook together and eat together. We feel very comfortable chatting about fueling, food, etc. so we decided to bounce some ideas off each other this past week and share each other’s work. In contrast to her Q&A blog post, here is a light-hearted, fun collection of the yummy and delicious ways that Jessie and I have been getting creative to refuel and stay cool this summer so we can continue to train our hearts out… (Side note: I also wrote a blog post last fall about some of the meals we had been cooking at that point in the year).
Often times, Jessie and I start refueling THE NIGHT BEFORE a big workout. We’ll place our running water bottle or ski drink belt in the freezer with a bit of water in it to freeze overnight. We also sometimes make coffee ahead of time, so we have iced coffee in the morning and/or we’ll make overnight oats for a breakfast straight from the fridge. Starting with a cool body temperature can help so much when you’re heading out the door at 8 am for hard intervals in the sun! Of course, we don’t forget to grab our hydration pack from the freezer in the morning, top it off and add electrolyte mix (my personal favorite is Tailwind Nutrition, which can be found at Gear West Ski Shop in MN or online). Also, we make sure to pack a snack for during the workout (such as Honey Stinger gummies or waffles) and after the workout while driving home. Our go-to snack these days for the car? SMOOTHIES! It’s pretty quick and easy to mix before leaving the house: a frozen banana, a bunch of frozen berries, some protein powder and almond milk thrown into a little blender, then into a Hydroflask to keep our smoothies cool while we train.
I think it’s pretty easy for athletes to prepare themselves for a long day in the sun by packing extra bars and gummies for fuel. It’s been engrained in our brains through so many advertisements over the years and there are copious amounts of easy products out there that can help us fuel on the go. However, whenever I have the option to fuel with fresh, "real" food, I take it and save the bars for emergency bonk circumstances.
When Jessie and I return from morning training, then the fun really begins! It’s important to make sure that lunch and dinner have plenty of carbohydrates, protein and nutrients to help us recover and prepare for the next session. However, during the steamy, summer days, we try to eliminate using the oven as much as possible. We live in the state of Vermont, which does not believe in Air Conditioning (*gasp*) and the oven can turn our entire condo into one hot mess! Instead, we turn to the toaster, waffle iron, instant pot, grill or magic bullet. The hardest thing for me is to make sure I'm getting in some veggies in the middle of the day, rather than only around dinner time. When we're doing intervals and strength training it can be tough on the tummy to run home and eat a big salad, digest it all in a few hours and then go workout again in the afternoon. So I've been making green smoothies that are also cool and refreshing!
One green, mean fighting machine smoothie contains: a handful of spinach or kale, 6-8 slices of frozen zucchini, half a frozen banana, half an inch of freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and about half a cup of almond milk/water (depending on the consistency). This is much easier on the stomach and still contains lots of nutrients! For lunch, I'll usually have this plus eggs or some leftovers from the night before.
If you click on some of the food pics it will send you to the recipes. Otherwise, they're recipes that we made up!
For my birthday, we made a few different types of tacos but never had to turn on the oven! Sweet potatoes were grilled and lentils/beans were on the stove. Chicken went into the instant pot and sauces were created in a magic bullet. I think that aside from our creative smoothie concoctions, I am most proud of the sauces we've been making. Even if it's just a simple tahini sauce, it can add so much flavor!
Although we have a quite a few veggie nights each week, we also try to get in some sort of fish and red meat once a week to help balance it all out. Easiest excuse for a grill night! Sadly, Stratton Mountain does not allow real grills around the condos, but we make the most out of our little electric grill!
Jessie and I love getting creative with our meal planning and are so excited that our garden is starting to flourish with home-grown veggies. Although we always try to eat a healthy balance of carbs, protein and veggies, we also recognize that we have to satisfy certain cravings.
If there's a reason to celebrate, we're ready to celebrate as a team! And if there's a celebration then there must be a celebratory cake! My teammate, Ben Saxton, celebrated his birthday last month and really wanted a popcorn cake, so we made that happen!
Of course, Jessie and I have plenty of evenings where we throw together whatever we have left in the fridge and call it a meal or we mix up a simple pesto pasta. But those meals aren't exciting enough to share. We also go out to eat (or takeout these days) from a few local restaurants. Although, there really isn't much to order from when living on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere Vermont. We're always looking for fun, new ideas for fueling. As I mentioned before, food can be a tricky topic of conversation around athletes, but I'm a firm believer that a problem is never going to be resolved if it isn't talked about. Jessie has done an outstanding job at opening up the door to talk about these issues! The more comfortable we can feel about discussing our concerns for ourselves and each other, I think the healthier we can become as a community. There can be a lot of stress revolved around eating and fueling, but there can also be a lot of fun and joy around it too! Cooking can bring people together, which can then provoke interesting conversations and create happy memories. In addition, fueling properly can help us train hard and ski fast so we can fulfill our potential as athletes! The more we share with each other the better we can support our friends and family. Stay tuned because Jessie will soon come out with her Part 2 blog post of fueling where she shares her own personal approach to eating around training.
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.