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Cycling Hydration & Nutrition: For a Sportive

13th March 2017
No matter what distance of sportive you decide to take part in, there are various elements you need to give serious thought to;
1.Your Training
2.Your Nutrition.

Don’t let those hard earned training miles go to waste with a poor nutritional strategy

How you fuel will be the make or break when it comes to not just surviving the miles in the saddle and actually enjoying the event when race day comes.

Check out this guide to getting ready for your Sportive

Testing nutrition strategies before race day is a good idea for the following reasons:

•Pre Event Morning fuel: Your breakfast will be one of the most important meals you consume and will set you up for the first bout on the bike, so make sure you are comfortable with it and it works for you.
•On the Bike feeding: Refueling on the bike is key, so get confident at consuming food and fluid whilst cycling at speed.
•Carbohydrates intake: Since your body can only store enough carbohydrate for up to 90 minutes you will need to intake up to 60g of carbs per hour of exercise to replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores.
 If you’re not used to consuming this much carbohydrate during exercise it is a good idea to test it out to ensure the body is capable.
•Sweat rate: How much you sweat will dictate how much fluid you need to take-in. Aim to not lose any more than 2-3% of your body mass to maintain hydration and be ready to train the next day.

Below is an example nutrition guide to follow around your training:

Pre Training / Pre Sportive

Hydrating: Ensure you are fully hydrated. Drink 500 – 1000ml fluid in the build up to your training ride. Use an Energy drink or Electrolyte drink to increase fluid retention.

Carbohydrates for Energy: For longer training rides, aim to increase carbohydrate intake on rest days and in the build up. Again use Energy Drink or Electrolyte drink between meals to increase glycogen stores, practicing for pre race carbohydrate loading.

Recovery: Ensure that you rest well between rides as this is where adaptations take place. Overtraining is common in endurance athletes. Aim to get the same amount of sleep throughout your training period.

During Training / During Sportive

Hydrating: Work out how much you are sweating (per hour) and aim to replace this. This usually falls within 500-1000ml per hour depending on temperature. For shorter rides, use an Electrolyte drink to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.

Carbohydrate Energy: For shorter training rides, focus on electrolyte and fluid intake. For longer rides, aim to take on 60g of carbohydrate per hour using a combination Energy Gels, Energy Bars and Electrolyte drink. Find out the combination that works for you during training.

Post Training / Post Sportive

Hydration: To ensure that you are fully recovered to train again, aim to replace 150% of the fluid volume lost through sweat. Always make sure to weigh yourself before and after your training rides (This step is for the more serious racer)

Recovery: Post-training recovery starts within 30 minutes of finishing your ride. Take a good Protein Recovery Shake to replace glycogen and electrolyte stores and rebuild lean muscle. Finally, ensure that your post training meal contains balanced carbohydrates, protein and vegetables.

For the Love of Carbs

Our muscles can store up to 300g or 2500kcal of glycogen to be used as energy. Glycogen is the main fuel you will use during your race. To make sure these stores are fully loaded, reducing the onset of fatigue, you can ramp up your overall carbohydrate intake in the 48 hours before the event.

To do this, increase your carbohydrate portions at meal times, including foods such as rice, potatoes, pasta and cereals and add carbohydrate snacks in-between, such as cereal bars, fruit, or carbohydrate Energy drinks / Electrolyte drinks

Breakfast before any heavy training session or Sportive is key to how you start your day. An ideal breakfast is something light and high in carbohydrates, with a little protein thrown into the mix. Porridge and toast with jam are great options for Carb loading, even finished off with a poached egg or omelette to add a little protein. All washed down with a strong coffee.

You should be aiming to be drinking 500ml to 1000ml of energy drink a couple of hours prior to the start of any serious training or event.

And We're off.....

During a long training run or  Sportive you should be looking to take on fluid from 30 minutes in, rehydrating with Energy Drink or Electrolyte drink, this provides sodium which helps you retain fluid and cut out bathroom breaks. While you are hydrating, you also need to keep your carbohydrate levels up, look at taking on 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, in the form of Energy Gels, Energy bars, bananas or whatever is available at the food stops.

The following gives you an idea of what you should be looking to take in per hour of your Run / Sportive

60-70kg Body weight: 500ml Energy / Electrolyte drink, 1-2 Energy Gels and 1/2 Energy Bar

90-100kg Body Weight: 750ml Energy / Electrolyte drink, 2 Energy Gels and 1/2 Energy Bar

These combinations can be varied, but you should be roughly looking at 60-90g of Carbohydrate per hour. Look to consume solids on the flat and gels just before climbs or tougher sections of the route, down to ease of digestion more that anything else.

Cramp: Muscle cramps are associated with dehydration / Electrolyte deficiency causing muscles to fatigue and spasm, thus all but ending your sportive.

Ensuring that you keep your Electrolyte levels up, you should be fine

Post Training / Sportive Recovery

It's safe to say that once you've completed your run / Sportive you'll be well and truly shattered, this, as was touched upon earlier is your body telling you that's its done enough, and that it's time to refuel and recover. It's always best to plan ahead so that you have snack, shakes etc withing reach so that you can start refueling within the magical 30 minute window.

Refueling: Your metabolism remains high for around 30 minutes after completing any sort of exercise, so this is the prime time to replace any carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes. This can be done by eating proper food like chicken, white rice etc, however this may not be accessible straight off, so a good Protein recovery shake is the best and easiest way to kick your refueling off. This will provide both carbohydrates for fuel and protein for muscle rebuilding.

Happy Cylcing
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