The Classic CBCG Pre-Race Breakfast Explained by CBCG Athlete and Chief Marketing Officer Amy VT
“The Grand Slam breakfast already comes with pancakes and toast, sir.”
“I know, I’d like an extra tall side of pancakes and additional serving of toast. Oh, and do you have real Maple Syrup?
Well, it was Denny’s so they didn’t have real maple syrup (we now travel with our own), but our server was clearly more confounded by our breakfast order, in general, than the syrup request. If you’re a CBCG athlete, then you’ve been prescribed the standard colossal pancake breakfast the day before your race. It’s not necessarily a widespread practice throughout the long-distance triathlon community, though, so what gives? We’re committed to this pre-race nutrition plan, and if you wonder if there’s any proof in the pancake batter, then note these success stories who’ve followed the same ritual: Justin Metzler, Heather Jackson, and Linsey Corbin, among many others.
Why breakfast for the carb load?
Someone got the memo in the end of the 20th Century that you should have a huge pasta dinner the night before, and eat oatmeal the morning of your race. Head coach Chris Bagg has studied endurance nutrition for decades, and has, with the influence of myriad experts including Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems®, determined that the latter is problematic because oatmeal can be fibrous and high(er)-glycemic. He’s confident debunking the former, too, because it’s not necessarily the best idea to load up your furnace before bed the night before a race.
Chris states, “It’s proven that you need to load up on carbohydrates the day before a race to bolster your glycogen stores. It doesn’t matter, however, when the carbs go in during those prior 36 hours, so breakfast makes the most sense for your biggest intake. That way, you get it done before your busy pre-race day, and conquering the feat as early as possible ensures you can process it all (and expunge it all) before the start line.”
We’ve done the math: roughly 75% of major half- and full-iron-distance events take place in a city with at least one Denny’s. It’s reliable, convenient, fast, and easy. Moreover, it boasts a kitschy novelty that makes for awesome memories and photo ops. The first time my coach proposed it I was appalled by the company at the joint: redolent of the endemic American nutrition issues that lead to widespread health issues. The last time I went there I was giddy and skipping before we opened the front door.
It obvi doesn’t have to be Denny’s, though. My fave memory of a non-Denny’s pancake breaky was at Kona when Wattie of Wattie Ink. flipped a gajillion chocolate chip pancakes over the griddle as he was nursing Foster’s 40-can and we were swimming. Can you imagine how stoked we were to come home to that smell and taste? I’m drooling just thinking about them. My fave story of an athlete adapting to a non-Denny’s environment was when CBCG athlete Greg Dufour was in Paris for the marathon and found a crêperie and ordered eight crêpes.
What if I’m gluten free?
You can do it! You might not be able to revel in the glory of Denny’s, but most North American locations should have some local breaky joint with GF options. Better yet, if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, then just pack some ridiculously affordable Trader Joe’s® GF pancake mix. They even make punkin’ flavor in the fall. If you don’t have a kitchen, then pack or buy some GF frozen waffles and toast them in your hotel lobby. My mom hoarded some for me all summer, which she protected for me from my ravenous brothers.
How do I fit it into my busy pre-race day?
Great question. I always say: if I’m in my room watching the Bourne Trilogy by 4pm, I’ve done it right. It’s so hard, though! Having to “shake-out” all three sports and check in your bike snd bags and everything can be involved. Once, at Kona, I left for bike check-in at 10am and got back at 3pm!
But we can’t skip breaky, so the biggest trick I’ve learned is to either do my run or swim (depending on logistics) as soon as I wake up (even before coffee!), and then report to breakfast by 8am. If you get one quick workout in before breaky, you should only have one or two little shake outs, bike check-in, and bag drop off for the rest of your day. Prepping everything the day before is clutch: your bags, nutrition on your bike, and mixing and filling ALL the bottles you’ll need the next morning. You’ll be maxin’ and watching a movie marathon before you know it.
Send us your pics!
CBCG athletes and coaches thrive on community, and the mandatory pre-race gorge sesh is one of our fave ways to get together. In fact, it makes for some forced moments of relaxation before things start goin’ down for reals. By the end of 2019, we hope to amass an individual pic of every single CBCG athlete in front of a plate, er, plates of pancakes. If you’re a current athlete, alumnus, friend, or family member, send us your pics, and safe travels to #CarbTown.