While nerves affect more experienced trail runners to a lesser degree, being slightly nervous is usually a good sign that you are ready for race day. To start a long day of trail running, breakfast is usually a top priority, none more so as with the Otter. Unfortunately, the nerves we talked about above, while mostly positive, also tend to make it difficult for most people to get in a proper breakfast the morning before a race.
Nerves tend to lesson one’s appetite to an extent that you may not feel like eating anything on the morning of the Otter, especially any solids. We don’t like to sound like your mother, but you really need to take some calories on board in the morning or it will spell disaster for you later in the day if you haven’t topped up your glycogen stores depleted from your fasted sleeping state. While your mother may have made you a solid plate full of “Mielie Pap” or bacon and eggs in the morning, a plate filled with too much fat and fiber content isn’t ideal chow right before a long trail run like the Otter with its stomach shaking descents.
Scoffing down such a “brekkie” will most likely upset your stomach and also takes too long for your body to break down, so you won’t have the energy you were supposed to receive from the breakfast in your system at the start of the race. This slow break down also means any GU nutrition you put in during the race won’t be processed nor become available until your breakfast has been broken down. You are effectively creating a traffic jam in your stomach. We’ll hazard a guess that most of you run trails to escape traffic jams, so this doesn’t sound like a GUd idea at all.
Ideally, you thus want a liquid meal like GU Recovery Brew (yes it says Recovery, but it’s perfect as a pre-race meal) that can be prepared and taken quickly on the morning of the Otter, around 2 hours before you start. This may mean getting up early, having your meal and then going back to bed again, but you need to give your body the time to process your meal and extract the energy you need from it before suddenly going hammer and tongs to get over the rocks to Ngubu hut. Otherwise you may just get a second taste of your meal later on. For those that can stomach or prefer something more solid, a slice or two of white toast with Peanut Butter GU gel spread on it is also a winner.
For those on the way to the race in a panic after they pressed the Snooze button a few times too many, try grabbing a packet of GU Chomps and a GU Gel to have 45 minutes and then 15 minutes before you start the Otter and remember to stash your trash!
As with anything trail running related, we advise you to test out your race day breakfast strategy before race day to see what works for you. It’s no use that you have dialed in your GU nutrition for use during the race by reading our tips, only to be thrown a curve ball by a breakfast that doesn’t agree with you.
All the best with your final race prep, we’ll see you at the start line of the Otter!
The GU Team