Keys to a Successful Cycling Race: Think Smart, Eat Smart

April 21, 2016

Cycling nutrition_eatingThere are so many things to pay attention to in order to prepare for a race. As a competitive cyclist, you have to be savvy in a number of different key areas such as cycling nutrition, bike maintenance, repairing or replacing bike parts, and knowing how to use various cycling accessories such as power meters and heart rate monitors to maximize performance.

If you also have a full-time job, it’s a lot to think about! In this article, we’re going to help take the load off your mind by focusing on a very specific aspect of race prep – eating before, during and after a race. Hopeful you can glean some useful information for you upcoming competition.

Keep in mind that eating changes depending on the distance and intensity of your race/workout. Not all suggestions may apply.

Before:

We typically find lots of articles that talk about what you should eat after a race, but not as many about what you should eat before. The key is, if you are already eating healthy and balanced meals, you probably don’t have to change much before a race.

One thing you want to make sure you are including in your pre-race diet the night before a race are carbohydrates. Carbs store glycogen in your muscles, which will be burned during the race the next day. Foods like pasta, breads, and rice are carb-heavy that could be on your dinner plate. Try to keep protein dense foods at a minimum.

If you have a long or particularly intense race the next day, you can do what’s called “carb-loading.” Cycling Tips explains that carb-loading typically takes place 2 days before your race. Male athletes can typically store about 1,500 to 1,900 calories of carbs in the blood, liver and muscles combined. And after two hours of exercise, glycogen levels will be depleted. Cycling Tips recommends eating 10 grams of carbs per kg of body weight daily in the two days before the race.

During:

There is no formula that stipulates how much you should eat during a race because different body types and habits cause athletes to have different eating patterns. Some of the variables that determine how much athletes should eat include: lean body mass, metabolic efficiency, intensity, race distance, and environmental conditions.

CoachLevi.com offers some valuable insights into what cyclists might eat during rides at varying distances and intensity.

If you feel that you should be eating differently, here are some questions from Training Peaks that guide your eating habits:

Do you find that you have enough energy for your workouts and races?

    • You should finish strong but spent, not crawling home or hitching a ride!
    • Eat more often if you bonk!

Do you ever get “grumpy” during a long session?

    • If so, you likely aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates.

Do you experiencing GI distress?

    • You might be consuming too much or need to combine different sources of carbohydrate (i.e., glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin).
    • You can try fewer calories or read labels to find products made with multiple carbohydrate sources and try different brands of products.
    • You might also work on metabolic efficiency to see if you can reduce the number of calories you need.

Do you seem to be able to eat whatever you want, even when the intensity is high?

    • No reason to back off if it is working for you!

After:

Right after a race you want to digest simple carbohydrates such as bananas, a bagel, or maybe even a slice of pizza. These things are often offered at the end of a race. Eating caloric-dense foods will restore your glycogen levels in your liver and muscles and getting some protein will help your muscles recover.

Stay away from the really fatty foods and foods high in protein. We know that some of you may be craving potato chips and whole pizzas, but its not the best thing for you.

See the article, “Maximize Your Post Race Recovery“ from Training Peaks for more information.

For more information, don’t hesitate to visit our website or stop into our store – Peak Cycles in Golden, Colorado. We have tons of advice, as well as bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel.

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3 of the Best Race Strategies for The Leadville 100 MTB Race

July 31, 2014

The legendary Leadville 100 mountain bike race starts and finishes in the heart of Leadville at 10,200’. With more than 90 percent dirt or double track dirt roads, steep climbs, serious descents and a seven-mile climb to the 50-mile turnaround at 12,600’, there is approximately 14,000’ elevation gain. That makes for a long and grueling day on the bike!  Yet, there are tricks and strategies  to make the Leadville 100 one of your best 100 mile mountain bike races.

The post, Top 10 Tips For Your Best 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, suggest one very important strategy.  That is, do your homework. By this, we mean, read the entire race website to learn the logistics. Get the start location, day and time right. Learn the course profile.  You may consider taping key mile targets or heart rate goals to your top tube to keep your mind focused as the miles go by.  Also, determine how many aid stations and what services such as drop bags are at your disposal. Line up the details of where and when you will leave your drop bag and be reunited with it.  Basically, the support your provide for yourself in advance of the race by doing your homework enables you during the race to have your focus 100% in the game and not distracted with worrying about other elements.

Fuel right.  By fueling right, we mean, balance your nutritional needs leading up to the race as well as the day of the race.  But bike nutrition requires focused effort.  Guidelines for fueling a 100 mile mountain bike race are: every hour take in 60-90 grams carbohydrates, 18-24 oz. fluid, 400-700 mg sodium and 100-300 mg potassium. Frequently consume, in small amounts, any combination of water, sports drinks, gels, fruit, energy bars and electrolyte capsules to achieve these targets.  If you don’t think you can stay on track with your program, consider setting an audible alarm on your watch for nutrition and drinking reminders.

Game On! Leading up to and during your race, it’s critical to maintain a positive and upbeat mindset that is in alignment with your goals.  Your thoughts, emotions, and race behaviors are components of your mental state, so take inventory of your mental state and align them with your goals.  If you find yourself slipping into the pain cave with negative self talk, have a mantra ready to repeat and get yourself back in the game. In times of suffering, it’s easy to compare your racing and fitness to others.  Here is where having your race plan and goals specific to this event comes in handy. Know your plan and race your plan.

When it’s all said and done, congratulate yourself on your race experience. Most athletes love the Leadville 100 MTB race and do it every year.  So what’s next?  Use this experience to launch towards a better result in upcoming events.  Evaluate your results based on your goals.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do next race to get a better result?  Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event.  Remember to evaluate your bike and cycling accessory selections.  Did you race the right bike?  Did you suffer from mechanicals?  Now is the time to dial in, replace, and buy the bike parts that you need going into your next event or next Leadville 100 mountain bike race.  The strategies and training you used this time around only build for a better result next time.