Monday, April 12, 2010

Maintaining Performance During Longer Training

As most people start ramping up their training during the Spring Season, it becomes increasingly important to pay close attention to your "fuel intake". Lately after group rides with athletes I've started working with, I've been asking how much nutrition they took in and in what form. I'm surprised at the response I get from most people who either have no idea of how much they've taken in, or who dramatically fell short on their needs. What's not surprising is their comment that they started to fade toward the end of the ride.

Following a smart nutrition plan on your longer training rides and runs is critical to your success. A lot has been written about how to estimate your needs and here are some common threads:
  • Depending on body size and intensity level, most people will need somewhere around 275 to 325 Kcal per hour of carbohydrate replacement. Start on the lower side and see how you feel. Tweak the amount you take in until you feel good throughout the ride or run.
  • Fuel up continually. According to "Exercise Physiology" (McArdle, Katch & Katch, c.2001), the body can process a maximum of 1.2 grams of Carbohydrate per minute. This equates to a little under 300 Kcal per hour, but given the limit of how much can be processed per minute, it becomes obvious that you have to eat/drink continually during that hour and not wait for 60 minutes to consume 300 Kcal (in which case you can expect a bit of stomach upset!).
  • Practice the form of energy that mostly agrees with you. I use all liquid and find that easy to process without stomach distress. Some people tolerate energy bars well or take gels. What works best for you under high stress loads is what you should use.
  • Differentiate what works during easy training from what works during high stress/race conditions. It most likely will be different!
Once you start to keep track, it's not that complicated. But it is crucial to your success (and to feeling good) with endurance sports.

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