You come in the door from a 4 hour group ride, salt on your helmet straps, feeling like a raisin, sucked dry from sweating all day under the hot sun; you barely drank, but you made it! Your brain isn’t functioning so well after barely eating and drinking out there. The fridge is looking so far away. Once you muster the legs to get over to the seemingly heavy? fridge door, you open the carton of OJ, look around, then go for it, downing it right from the jug. You’re way too tired to grab a glass. Besides, imagine the energy required to do the dishes?
You’re popping frozen waffles in the toaster, asking yourself why you didn’t get the 4 slot toaster instead of the 2? That would be convenient right now, because this waffle ‘skyscraper’ you’re about to create is going to be much taller than a measly 2 floors, that’s childsplay.
As you wait anxiously and crank the toaster intensity up to max, you reach into the fridge for the maple syrup, thankful you got the liter instead of the smaller glass bottle on your last grocery shop. Insert pat on the back here.
The butter is out, you find a knife and muster the energy to slice some bananas, and then pop, up comes the first 2 floors of the waffle tower and in go the next two. Oh, peanut butter, you want peanut butter too, the salty kind and a lot of it.
Finally, your skyscraper recovery meal is ready. 4 floors of waffles, held tightly together by masses of peanut butter. It appears to be drowning in maple syrup, oh no, hold on, it’s floating! – well done. Bananas scatter the plate, your plunk yourself down in front of your fave Netflix show and you are a little concerned, you may never get up again.
You are beyond trashed. Just like every weekend. You’ll over eat, feel like going to sleep for the day and assume that’s just how it is for everyone.
But it’s not.
Eating during long training rides serves many purposes. Assuming you have shown up on the ride properly fueled, your goal is to keep your glycogen stores up and avoid running out of energy to get the most out of your ride and finish strong. There won’t be any quality finishing sprint if your glycogen is depleted. The longer and harder the ride is, the better your strategy needs to be.
By consuming carbohydrates during long training rides you’ll reduce the likelihood of being ridiculously ravenous afterwards, which often leads to overeating and poor choices. You simply end up too hungry and you won’t wait to prepare anything decent. Staying hydrated will also help you to feel human and energetic for the remainder of the day (not all of us have the luxury of retreating to a marathon of Netflix while marinating in our carb coma!).
Training nutrition requires some trial and error. Generally someone with a good daily nutrition plan will do just fine on most rides under 1.5 hours drinking just water, assuming that’s the only ride of the day and you’re not in the middle of a stage race; context really is everything in sports nutrition.
Once your rides are 2,3,4 + hours in duration, you should have a strategy. How many grams of carbohydrates will you eat hourly? The range can be anywhere from 30g up to approximately 100g of multiple types of carbohydrates -think glucose, sucrose, fructose etc.- depending on the duration and intensity of your ride. Most sports products like gels and chews have many different types of sugars in them, which allows you to absorb more carbohydrate hourly, vs glucose alone.
Learn what works best for you by practicing during training rides. Some of your carbohydrates will come from your sports drink, which makes it easier to reach your total hourly intake. Most drinks have approximately 20-30g of carbohydrates per serving.
Ideas for on the bike could include like gels, chews, home made rice bars, white potatoes, white bread with jam or bananas. Take note of what you consume hourly and how you feel at the end of your ride, then adjust if needed on your next similar training ride.
When heading out on a 3-4 hour ride, remember the words “start early and often.” Don’t wait until hour 3 when you are falling apart to start eating. Start within the first hour, you’ll be expending a lot of energy in the coming hours, assuming you are not out on an easy spin to smell the roses. Consider brining a portable baggie with some extra sports drink so you can fill your bottles with water if there is a ride stop and add powder. Alternatively, bring an extra bottle in your jersey pocket. You won’t regret it if the temps are high and there is no planned stop.
For the most part, you shouldn’t feel completely trashed after every long ride! By going into rides properly fueled and having a training nutrition plan for fuel and hydration, you may be surprised that you’re not even super hungry after a longer training ride. Of course you’ll want a good recovery meal, but the difference is you won’t over do it and make poor choices while being totally trashed with a foggy brain.
Like everything in life, plan ahead for succes on the road and success is exactly what you’ll create.
NSAG – Powerful Nutrition Powerful Results