Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nutrition Lessons after Season's First Outdoor Long Ride

Regular followers of my blog are probably aware of my ongoing search for the perfect race nutrition and dietary supplementation. Yesterday's long ride gave me a new data point in the nutrition grid -- all in typical Disaster Magnet style.

The disaster aversion began Friday when I realized I was out of Accelerade, the endurance drink I've been using on my indoor training rides. When riding indoors, I pay less attention to nutrition because any problems can be solved by getting off the bike and going downstairs to raid the refrigerator. But yesterday, I had to face the facts -- riding outside meant that all my nutrition had to be ON me and/or the bike. Being out of Accelerade brought up the possibility of using Hammer Perpetuem, which works ok but at times during rides, I get lightheaded for no apparent reason. A second option was to come up with some other nutrition plan like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or power bars (I could probably scrounge up some age-old energy bars hidden somewhere). Solid food is only ok if I don't run afterward. Not liking either option, I desperately searched the house for a third. Wanting to test the theory that I need more protein in my race nutrition, I came up with a new idea: devise something that mimicked Accelerade's 4:1 carb:protein ratio. I found an old can of Extran -- anyone remember that stuff? it's almost pure glucose with B1 added. I mixed up 1150 calories (going for 250 calories/hour for 4.5 hours) -- 290 g carbs -- and then added 70 g of soy protein (in a powder) to get the 4:1 ratio. In retrospect, that added about 275 total calories that I didn't account for. Then I added 4 Hammer Endurolytes to the mix, water, and shook it up and poured it over ice in a water bottle.

I grabbed two bottles of water (knowing I would refill them) and set out. The ride was not what I had hoped. Although I've been doing lots of drills for fast turnover, I feel like I've sacrificed speed while riding my trainer this winter. But I did feel really strong on the hills (and there are a lot of them). I also spent half the ride into a headwind which might have caused some of the slowdown. Nutrition-wise, it was almost uneventful. From start to finish, I felt no light-headedness or lack of energy. The temperature was between 55 and 60 degrees F, I sweat very little and drank just over 3 24-oz bottles of water. The distance was just over 76 miles, total time was 4:22 -- i.e., average speed was 17.4 mph. My nutrition conclusions would obviously be that I need more protein on my endurance rides, and perhaps 250 calories/hour is not quite enough. Training-wise: duh! I will need more speed work.

After reading blogs and discussions about Ironman fueling, I've decided that my next data point in the nutrition study will include the EFS products by First Endurance. (EFS Energy Drink and Liquid Shot contain "free form amino acids" which First Endurance claims are both equivalent and easier to digest than complete proteins containing branched chain amino acids.) And a quick update on my dietary supplementation: I've been taking EnerPrime capsules for a few weeks now and I have noticed no difference in my energy levels from Hammer Premium Insurance Caps. Thus, I will probably go back to Hammer PIC's, which are significantly less expensive, and find a way to add the ingredients recently removed (the amino acid profile), with a product such as this one from Fitness Nutrition.

Last of all, the disaster report:
  • Potential nutrition disaster -- averted.
  • 2010 riding disaster #1: pothole. As my first outdoor ride of the season in Cleveland, I was out of practice and tried to ride a little strip of flatness between two potholes, ending up rotating my aerobars down and launching all my water bottles from the bike. I don't know what was funnier, me running out into the road waving to motorists to avoid running over my precious plastic bottles, or getting back on the bike to realize I was facing down when I gripped the handlebars. But seriously, it could have been much worse -- but my teeth and wrists were still intact, the wheel rims were unharmed, and an allen wrench was all I needed to fix the handlebars.


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