Training hours have become that much more favourable for riders preparing for Taupo with daylight savings becoming our friends now that winter is over. But poor nutrition can hamstring even the best training programmes. Emma Cachemaille gives her tips on how to plan your nutrition more effectively.
We have officially reached spring, and we are now 8 weeks out from the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. The clocks have changed to allow us more daylight hours to ride in the evening, and the temperature is improving. Hopefully your motivation is high to make improvements for the spring and summer ahead. If you want to get the best out of your racing and training, it is a good idea to approach your nutrition with a plan, the same as you would with any goal. It’s hard to keep good nutrition all year round unless you are really well practiced at it and it is a habit, but if you make small changes for the next 8 weeks, you can get some benefits with recovery, hopefully shed a few of those pesky pounds, and have a winning nutrition plan for race day.
These 8 steps are designed to be introduced one at a time, week by week in the lead up to Taupo. If you are doing K2, or if you have stumbled across this article a little late, try nail numbers 6 to 3 inclusive. Start with where you are at, and aim to make it a little better.
EIGHT WEEKS OUT – VEGETABLES LIKE A RAINBOW
There is no denying your day to day nutrition has a massive impact on how well you recover, and how well you train. Some athletes advocate being vegetarian, some discuss the merits of paleo, but the main crossover from this and what most nutritionists would agree on is eating a broad range of vegetables, salad, and fruit, all of which have high nutritional value and benefits such as improving cell function and reducing the acidic state of the body after hard training. The more “colours of the rainbow” plant food you eat, the less likely you are to eat processed food and therefore reducing the internal stress on the body. When training hard, your body is already stressed, so minimising the stress from other sources will aid your recovery.
Goal: add 1 or 2 new vegetables into your diet, and try to get 1/3 to ½ your plate being “above the ground” vegetables.
SEVEN WEEKS OUT – QUALITY CARBOHYDRATES
Similar to above, your day to day carbohydrate quality (and timing) will affect the way you train. There is a lot of emphasis on “how many carbs” cyclists eat, but not always as much on the quality of them. Again, you want to be looking to remove as many of the processed forms as possible, and eating your carbs from sources that are as close to nature as possible. All “below the ground” vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, pulses, beans and fruits (getting a second mention here) will serve you well. Try to steer clear of white breads, muffins, scones, deep fried carbs and sugary carbs.
Goal: aim to make small changes, for instance brown or wild rice rather than white, kumara rather than a processed hash brown, and chick peas with your avocado and eggs rather than white bread. Cook up extra at dinner time so you have leftovers for the next day – it’s when you are unprepared that it’s easier to make a quicker not so healthy choice.
SIX WEEKS OUT – HYDRATION
Keep hydrated…but not too hydrated. Drinking to thirst is a really good measure – your body is a pretty well tuned machine. The problems come when you either mistake this thirst for hunger, or when you are on the rivet racing and ignore the feeling as all other painful feelings are taking over. A 500mL – 750mL bottle an hour should work for most people during an event or training. And you can do a quick urine colour scan after you’ve finished riding. You’re aiming for more of a lemon barley colour/pineapple juice colour, rather than an orange mango type colour. Too pale can mean you don’t have enough electrolytes to suck the water into cells, and too dark can mean you don’t have enough water.
Goal: once you have finished your events or training, drink water or electrolytes until you pee before having any alcohol.
FIVE WEEKS OUT – ON THE BIKE NUTRITION
Failing to plan is like planning to fail. You need to practice what you are going to do on race day during the event. Have a well oiled plan – don’t just wing it. Loosely, you need to aim for between 30 – 90g of carbohydrates per hour of racing. Practice this on your long weekend rides. Shorter rides you should be able to get away with water and maybe electrolytes as long as your diet is good and you do your recovery properly. The bigger you are, the harder you are going, and the longer you are out there, the more food you may need. I’ll be dedicating a whole article in a few weeks time to pre-race, mid-race and post-race nutrition, so keep your eyes peeled for that for the best tips to succeed.
Goal: make yourself a plan and practice it on your long rides to make sure it’s just right. Not too little so you hit the wall, not so much that you feel sick.
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