Tip of the Week

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Tip of the Week

Postby natellerandi » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:43 pm

The Flow of Nutrition.

In a previous post, I spoke of a nearly-4.5hr snowshoe race in which I competed this past January. I also lamented forgetting my Hammer Gels, because hydrating and fueling with liquid alone ended up not cutting it.

2/3 of the way through the race, I hit the final checkpoint and, desperate, grabbed 2 gels. I don't recall the company (it's brand new to me) but I do recall the ingredients being higher quality than typical gels (reminded me of Hammer). I consumed both gels back-to-back, hoping the infusion of fuel would get me back on track. And it did. For the next 30+ minutes, I felt refreshed and was motoring. Then those gels burned off and I cratered again.

At 43 years of age, I learned something new. For me, when racing long and with some (or a lot of) intensity, liquid fuel along doesn't cut it. I'm not speaking of simply mixing fuel sources to avoid getting bored with fueling or to avoid getting sick of one particular taste. What I learned is that I need to punctuate the "steady as she goes" fueling/hydrating with periodic larger consumptions.

Since that January day, I've tried this out in a couple different ways, and am now to the point a couple months later where I'm confident this strategy works well for me (I didn't experience any "misses"). Here's how I've adjusted my previous fueling strategy these past couple months:
* For my 60-90min morning rides that are more intense, I shoot a gel 10-15min before the start of the workout (I used to not do this due to the brevity of the workouts)
* I fuel during my recovery workouts, even those lasting an hour or less. The reason is that while this doesn't improve the workout itself, my guess is that on some levels it helps stimulate recover. I've noticed less post-hard workout malaise and seem to rebound more quickly from the hard days
* I complement my hydrating/fueling with a flask of gel. I take a 5-shot flask and fill it with just over 4 servings of gel and then top it off with water. Decreasing the viscosity allows the gel to go down more quickly and (I'm totally guessing here) allows it to be more quickly assimilated. I've boosted my overall caloric intake to the upper end of Hammer's recommended range or even a touch above, instead of trending toward the lower end of the range (I weigh in at 140-145, depending time of year). The macrodoses the gel provides work well with the microdoses of getting fuel via liquid (you can only drink so much, so fast). I took a big swig of gel every 45-60min during my long rides, depending on how intense the effort was.

To be clear, while boosting caloric intake seems to be the key, I would argue it's not necessarily about NOT taking in enough in the past, but rather HOW I was taking it in. I'll be curious to see how the strategy works when it gets truly battle-tested in my first race of the season tomorrow. I'll report back. In the meantime, if you find your own energy and performance waning in the second half of races, this sort of fueling strategy may help change that for you.

Happy Training,
Nate Llerandi
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:44 am

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