Jessie Diggins Food Strategy for Races and Long Workouts

FForty-eight hours before one of the biggest races of her career – the 30km freestyle at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing last February – cross-country skier Jessie Diggins found herself in a situation that athletes of endurance as she take careful precautions to avoid. “I woke up with food poisoning,” said the three-time Olympian and member of the American team.

Rather than give up the race (which is probably what anyone short of an Olympian would do), Diggins decided to keep going. “I’ve certainly been through worse,” she says, “but it was quite overwhelming; I didn’t have the energy to go up to the site and test my skis.

After talking with her sports dietitian and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, she hatched a plan that got her to the starting line and ultimately to the medal stand (she won silver, NBD) . It involved a finely tuned refueling strategy that she’s been testing for years before big events and particularly tough practices.

How Jessie Diggins eats before, during and after long runs

The day of the race

Ask any distance athlete and they’ll tell you the number one fuel rule is don’t eat anything new on race day. And Diggins is no different. “Usually I want to try new foods, but race morning is not the time to experiment,” she says. “After many years of racing I know what will stick and stay with me all the time.”

For her, it’s oatmeal, peanut butter, and banana, a blend of simple carbs and healthy fats, with minimal protein because that can be hard on your stomach to process. (It was the meal she ate many times while recovering from food poisoning.) “It’s easy to travel with a jar of peanut butter or almond butter,” said Diggins. “And that’s usually something I don’t like to change.”

Hydration is his other priority. Two to five hours before a run, she’ll drink a bottle of water with one serving of Nuun Prime Mix (she’s a brand ambassador), and 90 minutes before the shot, she’ll drink another with the mix. Nuun’s stamina. “I usually have a 16-ounce bottle of water, and I’ll use two,” she says. “Then I’ll drink about another 32 ounces in the two hours leading up to the race.”

During the competition, Diggins only consumes small sips of water at feeding stations along the course, as well as easy sources of carbohydrates and simple sugars if she gets hungry. “I lean towards sports gummies, something easy to digest that won’t take energy to give me energy.”

Once she crosses the finish line, within 20 minutes she will drink a recovery shake containing carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. “We usually walk through the media area right after a race,” says Diggins, “so you don’t have 10 minutes to just sit down and eat something. It’s easier to take a minute and drink something.

During training

Unlike on race days, when Diggins is more aware of her fuel regime, during practice, especially off-season, she takes what she calls a “flexible approach” to how she fuels herself for workouts. longer workouts. “I tend to eat a lot of everything, and nothing is off limits,” she says. “I make sure to eat lots of different fruits and vegetables in my meals to make sure I have enough nutrients to have a good immune system. And if I want to enjoy dessert, which I do almost every day, then I will.

Diggins, who says she battled an eating disorder in her late teens, prefers to put the energy she saves by not stressing over her diet to put it to better use by focusing on her technique and form. . “I spent a lot of time, with the help of amazing people, learning to trust my body and trying not to fight against my body, but to use my own strengths that I’ve been with. genetically blessed,” she said. said. (Something she wishes the media focused more on, rather than what female athletes look like — or don’t look like.)

If she needs to pack snacks for a long-distance workout, it could be anything from her favorite homemade energy balls (recipe below!) to a candy bar. “It’s also my life, you know, like I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and so I’m not going to stress day to day. I want to do it right on race day, but in the summer, if I want to bring a candy bar on a long run, ultimately my body doesn’t know the difference.The most important thing is to make sure I have enough energy to sustain the high level of training I’m doing.

Jessie Diggins Go-To Raspberry Chocolate Coffee Bites

Yields 12 balls

1 1/2 cup dates
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup rolled oats, crispy rice cereal or chia seeds

1. Mix the first eight ingredients together in a blender.
2. Roll into small balls, then roll each ball in oats, crispy rice cereal or chia seeds until the outside is no longer sticky.
3. Chill in refrigerator until cold and firm.
4. Store them in the fridge until you take them on an adventure!

Final food for thought

While Diggins is definitely focused on her fuel strategy, she says she’s also (if not more) focused on her mental toughness because that’s what gets you over the finish line, which she has. tested in Beijing. “For the most part, if you’re in the range of what works for you, what you eat or don’t eat isn’t going to make or break your run,” she says. “Have a good mindset, a really good attitude, and be ready to go hard and be in the moment and focus on your race.”

Ultimately, it’s a tip about her mother’s state of mind that she credits with helping her get to the podium after food poisoning: “One of the things my mother said that was really, really helpful was, “Don’t decide right now,” Diggins shares. “’You don’t have to decide 24 hours before the race how you might feel, how you might do. Right now, you’re going to eat, you’re going to drink, you’re going to sleep. And then even if you decide to start the race, that doesn’t mean you have to finish.’ I hadn’t decided yet that it wasn’t going to work. You just don’t know what could happen. This advice is worth its weight in gold (and money).

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