April 15, 2021

Episode 281: What Do Handlers Eat at Big Events?

In this episode (14:29)

In this episode, Jennifer and Esteban share their not-so-secret agility trial eating habits with Sarah.

You Will Learn

  • What Jennifer and Esteban eat at big agility events.
  • How they time their meals around agility runs.
  • What snacks they prefer for quick energy.
  • The #1 thing agility competitors forgot to consume, especially in the winter.

- You're listening to "Bad Dog Agility," bringing you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. (upbeat classical music) - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah, and this is episode 281. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the new Teeter "Teach It!" An easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your teeter, so you can introduce

motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go to HitItBoard.com for the new Teeter "Teach It!" and other agility training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's HitItBoard.com. - Today, we asked the question, "What do handlers eat at big events?" So this is a question I get from time to time. People wanna know what I eat at trials. People ask me

what Jennifer eats at trials. I don't actually know what Jennifer eats at trials. - Well, we're about to find out. - There we go, let's start with Jennifer. So, Jennifer, what are you eating at these big events? You know, not just, well, actually, let's start with that. Do you eat differently for local events, like local regular trials, versus the big ones? And I'm talking about Westminster, World Championship,

- Nationals. - Nationals. - Absolutely, there's definitely a big difference in my routine. Not just what I eat, but we'll talk about food today. But my routine at local events, you know, there's not as much prep going into driving the 15 to 30 minutes down the street for the trial. If I eat something that makes me feel not great, there's not a whole lot on the line or

I can leave and go home if I'm not feeling fantastic. But at the big events, there's so much prep going into it. You're planning months in advance, and weeks in advance, and the days before, packing. And, for me, those big events do involve planning and packing out what I'm going to eat. So I think a lot of it is things that I know are going to make me

feel okay. I'm not gonna try any new spicy, you know, cayenne peanuts on my way to a big event for the first time. Or going out to a new restaurant and try some dish that I've never had. So it's definitely sticking with things I know at big events. I like multiple short meals throughout the day, right? I feel like, for me, it's pretty typical at these big events.

You know, you start with a protein in the morning. If I'm prepping and taking food, Tulsa recently, packed a bunch of hard boiled eggs. You know, eating some eggs in the morning, peanut butter and fruit in the morning. And then smaller meals throughout the day. I can't say that at big events, I ever eat a lunch. I don't sit down and open up my cooler and pull out

a bunch of different items, but I will snack on stuff. And then even dinners you think, "Okay, I got through day one of Nationals and you kind of wanna settle in to go out and have a nice dinner. I'm not gonna head out to the Italian fettuccine Alfredo creams covered pastas. It's not for me. I tend to try to stay lighter and save that all for Sunday and

Monday on the drive home. - Nice, nice. So I think we need to start by saying, if you have a way of eating that's working really well for you, you feel like you're getting good results, right? Anyone who's listening to the podcast, I mean. Obviously, whatever Jennifer's doing works very well for her. Whatever you're doing, yeah, keep doing it, right? So this is more for people who are

interested and they're like, "Should we be doing something else?" And I think when I hear Jennifer talk, what I'm hearing is a lot of trial and error. It sounds like someone has been to that Italian restaurant and maybe eaten a lot on a weekend at an event. - Or drank that jumbo, sugar-filled margarita not at the right time. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm sure there are no pictures

on Facebook of that event. But, yeah, so you're gonna get a lot of trial and error. Especially, for those of you who are new to the sport and you're many years removed from your athletics. Think back to your athletic days, or maybe some of you never really competed in sports, so you've never experienced the kind of game day routine, right? Where there's a lot of adrenaline flowing, right?

From the moment you wake up, there's a lot of stress, right? And one of the ways that humans exhibit that stress is through our gastrointestinal tract. You don't wanna put yourself in that kind of position. And so, for myself, I see two striking similarities between myself and Jennifer. One is that during the performance, like game day, the actual competition, I am not going to be eating very heavy

meals, right? And I think most people are like this. Heavy also means fatty, so it's not just amount, right? I don't wanna eat like five Snickers bars. That's an incredible amount of saturated fat and calories all at once, and sugar. Like it's just a little too much, right? And you wanna stay sharp, you wanna stay functioning. I will typically be fasted when I do my first run. I

do not eat until after my first run. And at these big events, they tend to be early starts, right? You gotta wake up at like 5:30, or six even, and look at the course map, and then get over there by seven. And I may not run 'til 10, 10:30. If I'm gonna run really late, I'm talking about 11:30 or later, I will probably squeeze in a light meal.

And a light meal for me is just gonna be like a banana and maybe a protein bar to get that protein, which is the second similarity, right? That's the second thing that Jennifer mentioned. So you wanna get some protein, that's gonna keep you a little more satisfied, give you a different source of energy. You know, when we look at foods and nutrition, you're looking at three different energy

sources, right? Your macronutrients are gonna be protein, carbohydrates, and fat, right? And so on game day, we're kind of like dropping the fat content down a little bit and you're gonna kind of up your carb content, why? Because it's easier and quicker to burn off carbs, right? So if I need a quick hit, I need a piece of fruit, an apple, an orange, a banana, those are all

really safe. Plus, wherever you go, let's say you're at a big event in Europe, the fruit's about the same. You know it's not gonna be crazy, right? It's not like you're going out to an Indian restaurant you've never been to. You know, I fear that we have dragged Jennifer to maybe a Korean restaurant, once or twice, at a big event. And then maybe the food wasn't great there,

right? - That actually has not happened. But I would be lying if I didn't say it made me nervous. - Yeah, yeah. - But it never resulted in poor performances. - Right, right, some places you're very solid, like in New York, right? We went to that Korean barbecue place and it's like really high quality, outstanding. Maybe some of the smaller places, the smaller towns. We go to some

like hole in the wall type restaurants and you're like, "Hmm." - Well, and we're doing is picking a name out of the phone book at that point. - You're like, "It's the only Korean place in this whole city." But, yeah, so anyway, protein, light carb. You can generally time your carb for maybe like 30 to 60 minutes before your first run. - But what I am hearing from

both of you, because I think, generally, when we get this question, people are asking for an edge, right? An edge to their performance, a way to do even better. They wanna do everything perfect at their big event, right? They want to get everything just right. And they wanna know how they can maximize their performance with what they eat. And what I'm hearing from both of you is y'all

aren't necessarily eating to try to get an edge. You're just basically actively avoiding having what you eat hurt your agility performance by having an upset stomach, or things like that. And so, you know, I think that I guess what I would say to people who are like, "Oh, how could I do my absolute best?" Is, you know, don't stress out too much about, you know, it has to

be exactly one hour before, and it has to be exactly this many calories, and exactly this many like macros, and stuff like that. It's more about finding a routine that is going to work for you, and that is not going to hurt your performance. - Right. - I don't wanna speak for Esteban, but I would 100% say that is the case for me. I'm not doing any special

like protein packs, or coconut water, or a certain length of time. I wouldn't say that there's anything I'm doing, eating, or drinking at big events that I feel like gives me an edge. You know, I'm drinking the normal stuff. I'm eating the normal stuff. It's about avoiding situations that make me feel, don't feel well. I also, and this sounds crazy, but I don't wanna feel slow. So even

if it doesn't upset my stomach or make me feel bad, I don't wanna feel bloated, and fat, and slow. I wanna feel, you know, on it and ready to go. So I would 100% agree. I didn't think about it that way, Sarah, but that's a great analysis on the way I eat and drink at big events. - And I'll throw one other thing out there, because I didn't

really hear it from either of you, but from my point of view, because I think some people will fall into this camp. Like for big events especially, and this is where things are different than local trials, you need to know how adrenaline affects your body. - Yes. - So for me, you know, I skip breakfast all the time. I have my coffee in the morning, and I don't

remember to eat again until three. And I'm totally fine with that in everyday life. But if I get a hit of adrenaline and I haven't had anything to eat, I get shaky. You know, I feel like my hands are gonna shake, like I need to sit down, like my heart is racing. Like that's how adrenaline affects me. And so at big events, okay, and here's the crazy thing,

even when I'm not running, when I'm at a big event watching Esteban, I get that same hit of adrenaline. And if I haven't eaten anything, I feel horrible. And so I'm making sure, like you said, the small meals, for me, that is preventative against feeling shaky. I carry like things like LUNA Bars, like the protein bars, where I just throw some in my backpack and I don't have

to worry about finding food, or finding a vendor, or anything like that. I just pull it out, and I can even just eat a quarter of a bar anytime that I start to feel like I need a little something, just anything to eat. And I'm just like, "I just need something in my stomach right now." - Exactly, exactly. Yeah, when I'm in serious training and I'm eating very

well, then, you know, I eat pretty clean. But I don't worry about eating clean at the event. Like if I show up and all you can get are a pack of M&M's and I need some sugar, I'm gonna eat those M&M's. You know, I would rather have gummy bears, you know, a non-chocolate, like lower, like non-fat content. A piece of fruit, like, you know, like I said, a

soda would give you the same function, right? And just get sugar in your body, a can of Sprite or something. And as Jennifer pointed out, like if all that stuff is pre-packaged, you know, a bag of Lay's potato chips and a can of Sprite is the same here, same in Croatia, same everywhere, right? You don't have to worry about, you know, is the food spoiled. You know, sometimes

you go to these vendors and you're like, "Ah, I don't know how this tuna sandwich is, right?" Maybe you should not be eating that two hours before the final, right? Maybe now's not the time to get luncheon meat at the Tulsa Civic Arena or wherever, you know, these big events are held. But you're not always gonna be able to bring your own food. Sometimes you're going to forget

your food. You need to be flexible and you need to not stress about it. So I think all of those things applies. The other thing I'll say is we're big dessert eaters at events. I don't know if you've ever eaten with us, but when we go out to dinner, we'll order like a lot of desserts. I personally will eat like two to three desserts myself. And a lot

of that is because of what I told you before, right? I'm basically fasting the first half of the day. So I'm up six, seven hours, only eat a piece of fruit and maybe a protein bar. And then that's kinda all that I'll have until four or five. And then seven o'clock, I'm basically getting like one meal a day. So I will actually drop calories over the course of

a weekend. So every Nationals I go home and I'm like three or four pounds lighter, just 'cause you're burning calories from all the cortisol and stress. But my body's able to do that. You know, it goes back to my swimming days where, oh, well, Jennifer was an athlete too. Did you guys ever carb load? Like Friday night you'd all go get spaghetti and all that stuff, right? -

Yes. I was just gonna say spaghetti. Track and field it was like that was always it, spaghetti before the big events. - Yeah, absolutely, so people can do that. So, you know, if you're gonna fast in the morning, yeah, you can load up, make sure your glycogen storage is full, right? All your muscles have all the sugar, energy, water available to you. You wanna stay hydrated. - I

was just gonna say. - Hydration is a really, is a really big thing I think agility competitors kind of overlook, especially, when it's cold. You know, when it's hot, it's a little more obvious. Everybody's like hot, I'm thirsty. When you're cold, you don't necessarily get thirsty, but you can get very dehydrated, right? And so some of our events are like winter events. It's cold out there at Nationals

sometimes. You know, one year it snowed. You wanna stay hydrated. That can make you feel really, really bad, and you can have a huge decrease in performance, a measurable decrease in performance, human performance, due to dehydration. So I would worry more about water than food. Everybody worries more about food, because food is the thing that makes you feel sick to your stomach, right? So if you're that kind

of person. So those are all things to think about. And, of course, this doesn't apply if you are say a Type 1 diabetic, you require insulin, obviously, you're on a different meal schedule, different conditions like that. If you're on special diets, you know, ways of eating, obviously, that's going to be different. But I think this just kind of gives you a general sense of how Jennifer and I

approach it. So now the next time someone asks we'd be like, "Hey, you just go find podcast number 281. - 281. - And get all the juicy details there. But in the meantime, would you like some of my M&M's? - (laughs) That's right. All right, well, we hope this gives you some ideas on how to structure your meals, and, hopefully, just take some pressure off the whole question

of, "What should I be eating when I'm at an agility trial?" Do what works for you, and trial and error. - Trial and error. - Yep, exactly. And you'll do great. That's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor, HitItBoard.com. Happy eating. (upbeat piano music)

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