A 3-4 hour ride can be grueling enough, especially during the cold winter, but what you consume during your ride is what will make or break your progress as an athlete.
On a long ride it is inevitable that you are going to burn a significant amount of energy and the main source of that energy is carbohydrates. However, your body only has a limited amount of carbohydrates it can store before it runs out and if you don’t replace these you begin to suffer (or as some people call it BONK!). The key is to replace these energy stores with more carbohydrates to be able to extend your endurance performance.
A sports drink is also key to your nutrition. Most sports drinks contain minerals called electrolytes (mostly consisting of potassium and sodium) and sugars to replenish what the body has lost through sweating. Water on its own is not able to do this. Obviously how much you sweat is down to the conditions you’re cycling in, and this will determine how much intake you will need.
It is important that you do not overdo any pre-ride food. This will cause you to spend the first hour of the ride feeling full, lethargic and most likely slow. Allow yourself to eat with a significant amount of time before you ride to allow that food to digest. Porridge is a perfect pre-ride meal as it contains slow-release carbohydrates which will set you up well for the start of your ride.
DURING YOUR RIDE:
Here is an example of what food/drink you should have during a long endurance ride:
1. Primary Concern: Carbohydrate and electrolyte replenishment.
2. What to Eat: There are so many options out there you can use but here a just a few of those:
At SunSport we specifically use Veloforte – a modern, innovative sports nutrition offering with heritage.
3. What to Drink: Top brands include HIGH5, Torq, Powerbar and SiS.
4. When to eat: You should drink small sips regularly and eat on average every half hour. Even if you don’t feel hungry or thirsty at the beginning of the ride, make sure you do, as it will catch up with you before you know it!
RECOVERING FROM ENDURANCE RIDES:
Recovery after endurance sessions is extremely important. You may not have put much strain on your muscles or cardiovascular system from a steady, long ride, but your glycogen stores will be depleted, and so it is important to replenish these as quickly as you can. This should be done within the first hour after finishing your session to gain maximum recovery. Many athletes tend to veer off the path of healthy eating and consume too many calories that are not necessary for the recovery process.
Some good examples of post-ride foods include:
Whist the choice of food is endless, what is important is to continue maintaining a balanced diet with natural and non-processed foods. Rebuilding muscles after putting them through a rigorous endurance ride is key to injury prevention and avoiding fatigue.
Training can be a good time to experiment with your nutrition to find out what works best for you. Don’t spend too long doing this though. Find what works best for your body and allow your performance to improve.
At SunSport Coaching we know that nutrition is directly linked to good health, wellness and athletic performance. We offer food diary analysis to create a holistic plan based on diet and exercise to help you achieve your goals.
If you would like to find out more about what we offer do get in touch via our website - https://sunsportcoaching.com
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