DEBBI'S 5 GOLDEN RULES
#RULE NO 1 - DON'T try anything new on race day or during an event. Practice your race strategy and learn to train your gut! There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to nutrition.
#RULE NO 2 - To avoid gastric distress, LESS IS BEST! Don't overcompensate on calories, fluids or electrolytes. Your stomach is not a tank.
#RULE NO 3 - Don't wait to run out of energy, MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY! If you have a long day ahead in the saddle, on the road, or in the mountains, start fuelling 40-60 minutes into your event. Take small sips or bites every 15-20 minutes.
Ideally, your pre- race meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before the start.
#RULE NO 4 - Use gels mindfully. 3-5 minutes BEFORE a big climb and towards the end of the race to get you across the finish line. You probably don't need gels if your pace is moderate and you are having solid food and a carbohydrate drink.
However, if you are racing competitively, gels are the simplest and most convenient way to get carbohydrates into your legs.
Avoid caffeine is you are not accustomed to it, or metabolise it slowly. The ergogenic benefits of caffeine work for fast metabolisers.
#RULE NO 5 - RECOVERY, RECOVERY RECOVERY! Drink your protein + carbohydrate drink within 30-45 minutes of finishing all training and racing.
How well you recover today, will determine how well you train/race tomorrow.
If you have been effectively and consistently recovering post-workout, you should start each day with 60-90 minutes of stored glycogen (energy) in your legs.
A BIT MORE DETAIL....
#RULE 1. Find out what nutrition will be available and who the supplement sponsor will be at your event. This will allow you to test it out on a (hard) training day.
We are all different and our guts respond very differently when blood supply to the gut is diverted away from comfortable digestion to the working muscles, brain, and lungs. Gastric emptying slows down and unless you have trained your gut (As professional cyclists and athletes do) , you may find yourself feeling very sick and miserable on the side of the road.
Training your gut and experimenting with various brands of bars, gels, and energy drinks is a wise move for any keen athlete. On a long, hot, day out some wholesome, rea, and salty food may work really well. BUT, remember number 2....
#RULE 2. YES, you absolutely need to replenish fluid, nutrients and electrolytes on a long run, ride, or, adventure! However, you cannot replace these elements at the same rate that your body depletes them, No matter how many calories your data tells you you're burning, you cannot match the deficit while you're exercising.
For the majority of athletes, calorie oxidation and gastric absorption rate typically allow for no more than 200-280 kcal per hour at most, to be safely consumed while supplying energy without causing gastric distress. Generally, I would recommend a range of 120-150 kcal per hour. Tour de France riders consume approximately 250 calories or 60g of carbohydrates per hour. So.... if you run out of energy in those legs, you may not be consuming enough carbohydrates, or you may not be fit enough!
THE PURPOSE OF FUELLING IS TO DELAY FATIGUE!!!
On a long day out a carbohydrate energy drink helps to fuel your muscles and keep you hydrated. BUT a little known, and very NB fact is that the a carbohydrate drink has been shown to reduce the inflammatory response of IL-6 cytokines. Thus delaying fatigue, protecting your immune system, and speeding up recovery. Try and choose a brand that does not contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colourants, flavourants, and preservatives.
ALWAYS PRACTICE YOUR FUELLING STRATEGY IN TRAINING OR ON AN EVENT THAT YOU'RE NOT AIMING TO WIN!
There are so many variables to consider. Variables such as age, sex, weight, stress, sleep, genetics, nutrition, resilience, injury, health, cold, heat, humidity, wind, fitness, and altitude are just some elements that contribute to your performance.
HYDRATION is a vital element to get right, not only for your performance but for overall health.
As with nutrition, both over-supply and under-supply may result in unwelcome issues.
There is a large variable in sweat rates and electrolyte loss between individuals. Some people are 'salty sweaters' and those individuals and anyone prone to cramping should ensure that they increase their salt intake marginally, prior to the event.
PLEASE CONSULT A MEDICAL PRACTITIONER, if you have hypertension or other health conditions before altering your sodium intake.
General recommendations for water (+ electrolytes) intake are between 450ml - 850ml (10oz-30oz). This is also an individual requirement as thirst and sweat rates differ.
However, (VERY NB!) over-hydration, drinking too much plain water can be a serious health risk and may result in hyponatremia (water- intoxication).
HYPONATREMIA occurs when the concentration of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. Sodium helps regulate the water that's in and around your cells. In severe cases, the brain may swell, which can lead from headaches to seizures, and even death.
Checking the colour of your urine is a fairly good indicator of hydration status. If it's dark brown or orange, you're possibly dehydrated, or need to consult a doctor. If it's too clear, you may need to balance your electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium) and you may be drinking too much water. If it's pale yellow or straw coloured you're probably good to go.
If you have eaten a fair amount of beetroot, or are taking beetroot shots.... your urine could be a lovely shade of pink and you don't need to go to A + E.
# MOST IMPORTANT RULE -- REMEMBER TO LOOK AROUND YOU AND TREASURE THE MOMENT!