With the May camp less than a week away, and some semblance of spring finally here after the long winter, it's time to climb.
To make the most out of your high volume weekends in training for Ironman racing there are as many things to prepare off the bike to make sure you maximize your time on the bike. Riding the Lake Placid course or a 100+ miler at home requires some forethought.
Prepare for any kind of weather. The Aidirondacks can be chilly in the morning anytime of the year. Pack what you would need to start out in 35-40 degree weather. Watch the forecast and then layer accordingly. At a minimum, arm armers and a vest are easy to take off and roll up to be stored in jersey pockets. Make sure your flat kit is in order, and you should absolutely know how to change your own flat tire. Practice!
Nutrition- off the bike:
What you drink and eat in the days leading up to your long ride has a direct impact on the quality of the ride you have, the brick run off the bike and the long run you have scheduled for the next day.
- Be hydrated but not overly hydrated. Drink water to thirst, remember, you aren't a camel! If you are urinating more frequently than normal and it's clear, you are flushing your electrolytes you need for the long ride down the toilet. Put the water bottle away, drink to thirst only.
- You do not need to carbo-load with extra servings of white flour pasta. Stored carbohydrate packs water along with it and may cause you to feel bloated. Eat a normal dinner with plenty of complex carbohydrates like leafy greens and colorful veggies. Get 3-6 oz of good protein in. Daily nutrition is too big of a topic to cover here so for more information on what you should be eating, check out our resident sport physiologist Jen Gatz's article on her most recent sports nutrition clinic here.
Treat the long ride as a race simulation. This is the time to work out exactly what you will be eating and drinking the morning of the race. Allow up to 2-3 hours for digestion of breakfast so wake up at a time that would allow this. Eat your normal breakfast but! If you normally only eat a slice of whole grain toast with almond butter and some fresh blueberries or banana or strawberry on top like I do, realize that it won't be enough for a 112 mile ride in the mountains + a 45-60 minute run off the bike. Add 2 eggs with the yolks or a plain greek yogurt with some fresh fruit and organic granola (no added sugar), or a whole grain organic cereal. A fruit and green smoothie blended to your tastes with some almond milk or plain yogurt in it is another excellent way to fuel up with your toast and eggs 2-3 hours pre-ride. Drink your normal coffee or tea and then hydrate with water to thirst. 30 minutes prior to the ride, do a gel, or shot bloks and you can have 10-12 oz. of sports drink or water.
We are all unique individuals with different biochemical processes and absorption rates so what works for one does not work for all. Figuring out what does work for you is as important as logging the miles. Without the proper caloric intake, your race will fall apart. I can recommend some general guidelines as a starting point.
- 250 calories per hour. This is an average. Smaller/lighter people may only need 200 and a larger/taller/heavier person may require 300 cals per hour. Plan accordingly.
- Calories can come in many forms. The camp provides Hammer nutrition products so if this is what you normally use, great. If not, be sure to pack what you have been using and remember, your bike should noy look like a pack mule.
|Don't do this!!|
- The camp provides an aid station on the out and back and at Cobble Lodge for you to refuel. The race provides an aid station ever ten miles and special needs at the half way point for you to pick up your specialized nutrition refills. There is no need for you to carry an extra ten pounds of nutrition and hydration bottles (skip the camelbak too!) on your bike. 2 bottle cages, 3 at a max are enough. A bento box is fine if you are partial to it but a gel flask can fit five gels and easily fits in the pocket of your jersey or shorts. Electrolytes should be placed in a small plastic tube.
- Fluids: roughly one 16-20 oz. bottle per hour. If it's hot, you may need up to two. If it's cold, you may need less than one. For the 2-3 bottles on your bike, at least one of them should be water. You need plain water to wash down gels/bars/bloks. It's also a basic human need that's magnified with exercise. You cannot rely on sports drink alone. Sports drinks are highly concentrated fluids that slow down gastric emptying rates for some people, especially when gels/bloks/bars are added to the mix. They also contain a lot of salt, and while you may need a small salt supplement on occasion, more is not always better. You can't drink salt water for a big reason! Keep that in mind.
- Salts: There is a prevailing myth that just because you are 'a heavy sweater' you needs mounds of salt supplements. Your body tightly regulates salt concentration via the kidneys. Salt is important for action potentials, cell communication and muscle contraction so your body regulates the sodium level in your blood very closely without you thinking about it. When you sweat, it is 99% water, the other 1% is urea and a little sodium so if it's warm and you are exercising for hours you may get some white salt streaks on clothing and on your skin. If you overly hydrate with water, you will dilute the concentration of salt in your blood. Your body will then release salt stored in muscle and your kidneys will reabsorb as much as possible to maintain blood concentration of sodium. You may cramp, you may slow down as salt affects muscle contraction. If you overdrink salty sports drinks you will cause cells to release water into the space in between cells which can cause bloating and dehydration. The solution? Drink to thirst! Be balanced with both water and sports drink. Thirsty and your sports drink tastes tothick and syrupy? You need water. Thirsty and you need a kick? Sports drink. By all means, keep the endurolytes or saltsticks in a tube, you may need them. On a warm day where you are taking in more fluids naturally and perspiring more, you may need to supplement with 1-2 capsules an hour. On a temperate day, you may need them only later on. If you are spot on with fluids and nutrition and are feeling low or twingy, thats a good sign your electrolytes are off and that's why you thoughtfully packed your electrolytes in that plastic tube in your jersey pocket ahead of time.
Be conservative on the first loop of the bike. If you race up the first set of climbs going out of town like it is an olympic distance tri, you will fatigue your legs in the first 20 miles and you will be absolutely shot for the second loop of the bike. Easy spinning up those hills. When you finally start descending through the rollers and down the big hill, have control of the bike but not a tense deathgrip through your arms and shoulders. Unless you are an expert bike handler, you should not be in aero descending. Span your vision, watch out for potholes and pay attention to wear other riders are. Safety first. Making the left at the bottom of the big downill, take the oppotunity to hydrate and get a gel or some nutrition in. Use this time to pick up the pace slightly and settle into a good rhythm. Refuel at the aid station and get some fluids and hydration in before the next set of climbs up 80 towards Wilmington. The course remains rolling through the out and back, when you return and begin the stair stepping climbs, gear down to the small ring, sit up, relax the elbows and neck and spin. Legs like pistons!
The final ten miles back towards town have a lot of false flats, you are continually climbing. Take this time to assess how you feel. All systems go? Great job! Feeling low? Recognize it and make the corrections. Check hydration, do a gel with some caffeine here, all that in check? Salts and water. There most likely will be low points, don't get yourself in a negative thinking spiral. Correct, spin and use your gears to your best advantage and know that you will feel better. Up mama, baby and papa bear and hey! It's Cobble and some friendly faces. Refuel, and quickly back out for that second loop.
Have a great prep camp next weekend! I look forward to seeing everyone at the June camp where we can really dig into the nutrition with a talk on fluids/nutrition/electrolytes and some individual concerns. In the meantime, if you have any questions, leave a comment here or over on the Firemanironman Tri Camp page on facebook. I'll see it and get back to you ASAP. This blog will continue to feature different topics over the next weeks leading up to the camps and the race from our different experts that make the Firemanironman camp so special.