5 Tips for long ride nutrition

man riding bike

As training for any endurance event including cycling ramps up, your time on the bike will increase.  The intensity and duration of your sessions will increase, and so will your body’s carbohydrate demand.  Fuel your body well both before, during and after training, and the performance results will start to show.  Here are five handy tips for fuelling your longer rides for your peak performance.

1. Plan your day

Check your training program to see how long, and how hard the ride is going to be.  Does it include a lot of hills?  Or will you be going with a strong group that might push you. 

And what are the weather conditions?  All these factors can influence your carbohydrate and fluid demands for the day.

Next, plan out your nutrition for the day. Start with fluids – what volume will you need for training? (Roughly 750ml per hour). Add your carbs – making sure you get enough in your fluids and add some solid food or gels if required (around 60-90g per hour).  Then check your electrolytes to make sure you’re getting enough through your sports hydration, and you aren’t simply relying on water to get you through.

For more detail on fueling, read this blog: IRONMAN NUTRITION PLAN – HOW TO FUEL IN TRAINING

road bike

2. Prepare your nutrition

This is something to do the night before, so it is all packed and ready.  Mix up your bottles of sports hydration and pop them in the fridge (or freeze some if it’s going to be very hot). Lay our all your carb sources and if you are using gels, try decanting them into a gel flask which is easy to keep in a jersey pocket and saves opening fiddly packets all day. 

Make your vegemite sandwich (you can freeze these ahead of time) and choose your energy bars or bananas, or whichever carb source you are planning on using on race day too. 

Pack as much as you can only your bike the night before, so you don’t forget anything in the early hours!

man standing next to bike

3. CONSIDER SALT

If you are training in hot conditions and are a heavy sweater you may need to add salt tablets to your nutrition for long ride days.  These long training days are the time to try it out, so you aren’t trying it on race day for the first time when there is a heat wave! 

The effects of salt depletion often don’t start to appear until at least a couple of hours into a ride, so start testing replacement options such as salt tablets from the pharmacy in your training.

4. WHAT”S FOR Breakfast?

Many an Ironman training day was undone by the lack of sufficient breakfast.  Long ride days are not the time to head out with just a coffee on board.  Will you be out for a big 5-hour ride and need porridge, honey, and banana to set you up?  Or will a piece of toast with peanut butter be sufficient?  Either way, plan it out before the night before and lay it out for the win.  

Try and get up a bit earlier so you have time to digest and you are comfortable on the bike

5. Plan YOUR recovery

Often long rides will be followed by a run off the bike, and so you are packing a transition bag.  Add a protein shaker filled with water and a serve of pea protein in a container so you can mix and drink this while you are waiting for breakfast or coffee. 

Always look for protein and carbohydrate rich foods for your recovery meal that are lower in fat as this slows your digestion – right when you need it to be efficient. 

Steer clear of inflammatory foods that are high in saturated fats like hot chips (as tempting as they make be) and your body will be well on the way to recovery, ready to do it all again.

eggs on toast

Belinda

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