Staying in a hotel for extended periods of time is a common part of being an athlete. Training camps and multi-day races often require day after day (or even week) of staying in a hotel room. This might cramp your style, but it shouldn’t disrupt your fueling habits too much! Participating in high amounts of training requires high amounts of nutrition. Instead of eating loads of snack foods or relying on frequent restaurant stops, learn to equip yourself with tools to get quality, proper nutrition to support your training needs. Sure, it sounds like a no brainer… but how doable is it to fuel well under such limited circumstances?
During a recent training camp in Tucson AZ, I had a first-hand experience with making this feat a reality.
1 week, 1 roommate, 1 hotel room, 1 mini fridge, 1 microwave and a schedule full of hard cycling.
Here’s an account of my experience along with tips + suggestions to implement this yourself.
I brought a suitcase of food along with me. Seriously. It was filled with my normal sport fuel along with some dietary stapes including: Honey Stingers, GoMacro Bars, Rx Bars, GoRaw granola + seeds, Canyon Bakehouse GF bagels, some adaptogens, CocoaElite recovery mix, Klean Athlete BCAA + electrolytes... a few other odds’n ends… I wasn’t lying, a legit suitcase!! Why pack so much? Well because on Southwest, a carry-on is free and all these normal fueling/eating products are too $$$ to replace, but too value to my performance fueling to not have on hand. I also packed a fork, knife, milk frother, ziplock bags, and a glass Tupperware. While that was a good start, it certainly would not be enough to fuel day after day of hard, long rides in the hot desert sun.
On my way to the hotel, I stopped off at Sprouts Natural Market to make sure I had some good supplies. I knew that the hotel had a mini fridge + microwave, so I had to get foods appropriate for that set-up. It’s a difficult balance of getting just enough, just what you think you need and can use without going overboard. I got a small bin of salad greens that also had shredded carrots and beets, along with frozen quinoa burgers, microwavable rice, hard-boiled eggs, chocolate covered espresso beans, bananas, carrot hummus, swiss cheese slices, mayo, sliced turkey, cold brew coffee, an avocado, baby carrots, and milk.
Right when I got to my room, I made dinner of the salad greens, dressing, and 2 quinoa burgers. If you’ve ever tried to keep greens in a mini fridge… ha… good luck. By day 2 everything in our fridge was half frozen. It’s important to keep that in mind and not get anything that’s too delicate or perishable. Also, its training camp! Long days in the saddle call for mostly simple foods and carbohydrate rich options.
I took time on an easy ride day to make a trip to Whole Foods. Tucson is very spread out and from the hotel location it took roughly 30 minutes each way to get to the grocery store. Training camp schedule is so jam packed with workouts and meetings that there is time to eat and sleep, not spend two hours on a food run. Again I had to stick with hotel room friendly items and stick to my necessities. I grabbed a bin of greens to eat right away. Training camp needs calories, but it is also nice to ‘detox’ from all the carbs and sugary ride fuel with some crisp, cool greens. My cart also contained pre-cooked chicken breast, pre-steamed beets, coconut water, kombucha, wine, chocolate (gotta have some indulgences!), tuna packets, a carton of soup (no can opener!), and more microwavable rice.
I know salad isn’t going to fuel my long rides, but the weather was so hot that I was craving something crisp and cool. Also, it’s nice to have something clean and green to cleanse the body from all that sugary sport food.
I had a good go at this. I ate all but 1 meal in my hotel room! The 1 meal out was a stop at Goodness Tucson for a quinoa + beet salad with a fresh juice. It’s always nice to get out and try a local place if you can!
On day 4 I did have a little ‘meh’ moment of not being too interested in eating due to just not being very excited about eating the same meal, again. But I ate it and moved on. Sometimes being well fueled for heavy training is simply about getting the calories in.
It just takes a little creativity to create healthful, nourishing and performance fueling meals in this situation. I ate out of the salad bin itself, grabbed extra food containers from Whole Food’s salad bar, cut carrots on the counter, washed dishes in the bathroom sink… Do what you can!
· Red Rice + Cashew Ginger Carrot Soup – this meal was super simple to microwave! It was hearty and carb rich without being heavy.
- Turmeric Rice + Hard-Boiled Egg + Avocado + Hummus – a favorite! It kept me full without being too heavy and really gave me good energy for the bike due to the balance of protein, carbohydrate + healthy fat. I will definitely use this meal to fuel long rides back home!
- BPJ + Banana – An easy staple. I made a sandwich a day to take with me on my rides. When you’re riding for 4+ hours, it’s nice to eat something real. Also, I always add salt to my PBJs and I recommend you do to. Endurance training needs salt, especially in Tucson temps.
- Granola + Banana + Milk – Simple, no cooking. I found this to be a nice recovery meal.
- Hot Cereal + Milk + Berries + broken up energy bar + Coconut – The extra chopped up energy bar took this from normal healthy breakfast to pre-endurance cycling fuel.
- Salad + Dressing + Avo + Veggie Burger (or Chicken) + Carrots + Rice - If you can get greens, add whatever else is around for a complete meal!
- Cold Brew Coffee + Milk + Protein – With no coffee shop nearby, I had to have a caffeine option on hand!
Want more details of how I fueled? Check out my videos + photos below!
Click above to watch the video of my hotel fueling experience!
- Call the hotel and ask if there is a mini fridge /microwave in the room.
- Find out the hotel’s breakfast/restaurant options.
- Remember that even if there is food available it might not be the right fuel needed to support your training.
- Bring what you can to save money.
- Bring a set of utensils/ can opener/ knife/ Tupperware/ baggies…
- Get creative! There are personal travel friendly thermos, tumblers, pour over coffee cups, rice cookers… If you travel to train often, it is worth it to invest in some equipment.
- Buy items that will hold up to inconsistent temps of mini fridges
- Carrots/Frozen Burritos/Dressing/Hummus…
- Buy items that do not take much prep, the last thing you want is to spend an hour microwaving pasta after a long ride.
- Opt for pre-cooked items that you can easily heat + eat
- Rice/ Quinoa packets
- Veggie Burgers
- Frozen Burritos
- Hot Cereal
- Buy items that are shelf stable
- Individual milk boxes
- Juice boxes
- Nut Butter
- Pick a few meals so you’re not going overboard.
- Pick a few staples to get your macro nutrients.
- Chicken/Veggie Burger
- Avocado/Coconut Oil
- Know your training, your body and how much fuel you will require.
- Always opt for more than you think you’ll need.