Nutrition Strategies — Avoiding Bonktown

Distance: 20.2 miles
Time: 1:05:41
Average Watts: 162 watts
Normative Power: 172 watts
Average Heart Rate: 138 bpm
Total Work: 632 kJ
Average Speed: 18.5 mph

This was the last ride before the Triple Bypass in Colorado on Saturday. It was literally a spin with my buddy Dan Hendricksen that was done at a very conversational pace. He is doing Seattle to Portland on Saturday, so we both needed to take it easy today. That goal was accomplished.

The legs are feeling great post-ride. I have a massage scheduled for Thursday night, which I will make sure the gal who does it is really gentle with my legs. She can go really deep and leave you in pain for a couple of days. I may even throw in an ice bath tonight to decrease any inflammation that may be in my legs right now. I am really taking it easy over the next couple of days.

Don’t forget to enter the Let’s Kick Cancer contest over the next couple of days. You only have until Sunday at midnight to get your entry in, so make sure you leave a comment, link on Facebook, become a Follower of this blog, and if you have it in your budget, make a donation. The comments that are coming in related to the contest are fantastic and I appreciate the heart-felt stories that are being passed on. You guys are great.

Long Ride Nutrition

Dan and I were talking this morning about our planned rides this weekend. Seattle to Portland is 205 miles and Triple Bypass is 240 miles over 2 days with some incredible climbing, so keeping your body fueled for the entire ride is the only way you can hope to finish. You can fake you way through 75 miles, but go beyond that and you need a nutrition strategy. In this case more than ever, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.

26.2ismycooldown.comYour nutrition plan should start a couple of days before your race or event. Let’s assume your event is on Saturday. In my experience, I have found that eating heavy on Thursday is the best. I will consume about 250 extra calories per meal while still eating clean on that day. Then the day before the event, I will eat lighter than usual. I will eat a good, hearty breakfast, a normal lunch, and then a light dinner than is void of lots of fiber and dairy. I definitely try and steer clear of salt and sodium as much as possible the entire week before an event.

I don’t tend to load up on a ton of water either. I am usually at right about 120 ounces of water each day outside of what I drink during a workout. I stick with that consumption level as it is plenty to make sure I am well-hydrated.

The morning of the event I never sacrifice sleep to eat. I don’t love a ton of food on race morning, so I will eat a ProBar about an hour before the start. I will also drink about one or two bottles of water, which invariably makes me pee right before the start. The ProBar has about 350 calories, which just tops off my fuel tank.

Once the gun goes off, I am usually good for the first 30 minutes or so of a race. I think that comes from being a triathlete and having a swim come first. At that point, I do monitor the clock very carefully. The human body can be trained to absorb anywhere between 275-300 calories per hour, and my body is very comfortable when I put 275 calories per hour into it.

When I started competing in triathlons, I would take 2 gels per hour. I loved Gu and that would mean about 300 calories per hour. It seemed to work well, but there were times when I wouldn’t follow them up with enough water and got that all too familiar bloated feeling, which would make me not want to eat. That can be the kiss of death.

On the suggestion of a friend, I went to an all liquid diet. I tried all of the drinks you can think of, and they worked with varying degrees. Then I stumbled on Infinit and I absolutely love the stuff. I put together a customized blend that has caffeine, takes some of the calories from protein, and has an osmosality that makes it easy to absorb. I also dial down the flavor as low as I can get it because when I am hot and breathing hard, for some reason I don’t love a strong flavor. If you want to see what my mix looks like, click here…

On long rides like the Triple Bypass, I will take two bottles of Infinit on the course and then pack three ziplock baggies that have enough mix for one bottle each. My group and I will usually skip the first rest stop and then stop at the second one out on the course. There I will make up new bottles of Infinit and drink and extra bottle of water. I will repeat that all the way to the finish.

I do take a ProBar or two with me on long rides too. When you get hungry for something solid, a ProBar or something natural like it really helps your performance and your stomach. I have come close to bonking on a long ride before and when that feeling creeps up on me, I open a ProBar and eat the entire thing. It seems to do the trick.

At rest stops, sometimes I will raid the meat and cheese tray and eat some protein. I don’t know why my body craves protein so much on long rides, but man it does. I swear I am 100% carnivore on rides over 100 miles.

The final piece of the puzzle for me is my electrolyte balance. It might be a little overkill, but I will plan on consuming 2 Enduralyte tablets each hour I am on the road. If I am sweating heavily because it is hot, I will take up to 4 per hour. The benefit of supplementing electrolytes during a long event is it helps stave off the cramps and helps you absorb your nutrition. The disadvantage is you can really get crusty from all the salt your body throws off. You also need to drink water when you supplement electrolytes. I have tried lots of different brands, but I have settled with Enduralytes from Hammer Nutrition. On their website they have a ton of resources related to nutrition. If you want to visit it, click here…

The bottom line when it comes to nutrition is you have to practice, practice, practice your plan under a number of conditions to make sure you get it dialed in. I know what works best for my body and I know what different feelings are and how I can solve issues that come up. At the end of a 100+ mile ride, I am still tired but I know I can keep going if I need to. The worst think in the world may be bonking and knowing you have another 20 miles to go…

Finally, post-ride nutrition is also important. You need to eat within 30 minutes of the end of your ride because that is when your cells are most receptive to replenishing their glycogen stores. There are suggested percentages to follow for how many calories come from carbs, protein, and fat. I find that a good wrap with lots of meat and hummus always hits the spot. Follow that up with a big glass of milk and it is tough to go wrong.

Tour de France Update

All I can say is Mark Cavendish, you are a stud. His sprint for the win today was nothing short of amazing. Like him or hate him, you have to recognize the immense amount of talent the Manx Missile has. When he hit the finishline the rest of the field was fading from exhaustion and he was still accelerating. If you want to see some awesome racing, watch the last 10 miles of today’s stage.

And there were some epic crashes today too…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...