My legs are tired. Racking up a combined 500miles on the bike and in the running shoes this month has certainly been felt. With the weather being so poor at the beginning of the year, I was behind schedule on the cycling front so the cycling intensity has been higher than I had planned for this time of year. That being said, my power output and average speed is much higher now than it was four months ago and maintaining my race pace is much more comfortable. I just need to train myself to keep this pace up over 114miles. Using the weather isn’t an excuse anymore, the sun has started to come out, the snow has gone and the roads aren’t as wet. I have had a lot of miserable, wet, cold rides in which I have to keep reminding myself “If it is like this on race day, you’ll have to deal with it” and that generally gets me through the session, although there were a couple of cycles I think I would have been better off swimming rather than cycling.
One particular bad week involved getting caught in a hail storm about 12miles from home, taking shelter for about 20minutes was pretty chilly and the roads were soaked by the time I decided it had eased off enough for me to get home. I was fairly hangry once I got in due to a combination of the long ride, cold, wet and the numerous cars that cut me up that day. Plus a very kind motorist who (purposely and unnecessarily) drove through a large puddle as I was going past. But I made it, it was a tough mental challenge, especially as I needed to run back to my start point, 15miles away. I spent an hour arguing with myself about whether to run it back or phone for a lift, eventually I ran it. A fresh change of clothes, my waterproofs on and some inspirational music in my ears set me off. To be honest it wasn’t that bad, I don’t mind running in the rain so much, but I find starting in the rain very difficult. Plus it was a good idea to test my waterproofs properly. A decent run too, 2hours 10minutes for 15miles after my bike ride despite not knowing the route and having to stop for navigation a few times, I was in a better mood at the end of the run. I would have been annoyed with myself if I had bailed out of the run and stayed in the warm. I’m glad I went.
The great thing about training for an event like this is the food. I am a big foodie, I enjoy eating and due to my energy expenditure being so high at the moment and being happy with where my body composition is; I get to eat a lot. If anything I struggle to get the calories in, I find I am constantly grazing in between meals, my portion sizes have gone up and there is an extra meal in there too. I have the eating pattern of a hobbit right now, I just can’t wait for second breakfast to arrive. This being said, if you are looking to lose weight or are not burning the calories off, then you cannot eat like this without putting weight on. Calories are not the only thing you have to watch during training, quality and type of food you are ingesting is also key. You won’t fuel yourself very well for training through eating fast food all day.
A standard eating day in the life of Andy G:
My day starts off with 1 cup of porridge cooked with 2 cups of milk and peanut butter (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) alongside some fruit when I wake up . Normally some form of breakfast bagel mid morning including some form of sausage, egg and veggies to keep me going. Lunch and dinner will be based around a balanced protein, carbohydrate and fat meal e.g. Chinese Chicken stir fry with noodles (1 chicken breast, 75g noodles, couple of handfuls of beansprouts, mushrooms, peppers, green beans fried in olive oil and seasoned with some herbs and spices) or Mexican fajitas (100g beef mince, 1/2 onion, 1/2 pepper, 1 tomato, handful of closed cup mushrooms, 1/4 avocado for guacamole, wrapped in 2 fajita wraps. Both very quick, easy, balanced meals (please note these portion sizes are for my hobbit appetite, meal sizes will vary dependant on your individual needs. Cheese on toast late at night (2 slices of bread, cheddar cheese, tomato puree, chorizo, seasoned with pepper), this surprisingly doesn’t affect my sleep or give me nightmares. Easy meals are best when training and work take up so much time and I often cook double portions so I have a meal ready for the next day and cut down on cooking time. Snacks throughout the day are pretty much anything I can lay my hands on; plenty of biscuits with cups of tea, fruit, flapjacks are the usual. During training I am mostly munching on flapjacks, quick energy from the sugar and slower energy from the oats is ideal for me to keep my glucose levels steady along with some energy and salts in my water. My daily nutrition will vary dependant on what I am training for, when I’m not putting in 10+ hours per week of exercise, my calories will come down to compensate for my adjusted lifestyle. Currently though, I need to keep the protein levels high in order for my muscles to recover and my calories high enough that I don’t waste away and fatigue. Nutrition plans need to be personal, generic plans will not work for everyone. General guidelines should be absorbed and adapted to your needs.
Fuel during training is essential for endurance. You can maintain a long slow steady pace for several hours providing you maintain energy and fluid levels. Dehydrating by only 2% and performance will start to drop. Don’t panic that you will dehydrate and gulp down half of your water bottle, flooding your system is more dangerous than dehydrating. The best way to deal with hydration levels is to take small regular sips and make sure you drink when you are thirsty. Nutrition can be quite personal whilst training, I have opted to stay away from energy gels this year as I know they give me stomach cramps if I am slightly dehydrated. Instead I have decided to mostly fuel myself on flapjacks. Fast release energy from the syrup and slower release from the oats makes a good combination and helps stabilise my glucose levels. I am contemplating a nice flask of coffee and maybe a peanut butter and jam sandwich for my hike up Ben Nevis, I have heard that a warm drink and some actual food is craved towards the end of long races. As I plan to mostly hike up Ben Nevis, the food will not bounce around in my stomach as I am not running and could help provide me with a bit of a moral boost as I’m sure I would have gone through all the emotions by that point in the race.
Our Greatest Glory Is Not In Falling, But In Rising Every Time We Fall