Robbie McEwen here, and as we get closer to October’s Gold Coast Cycle Fest one thing I find people asking is for tips on how to maximize performance in their chosen cycling event.
One of the most important tools that cyclists have to help increase endurance and boost performance is nutrition, and by knowing what to consume and when to consume it you can make a significant difference in the way your body reacts to the challenge of the event.
I’ve put together a few quick tips to help cyclists at all levels benefit from proper nutrition during training and before their event; by using these nutritional tips you’ll find your energy increases and your capacity for physical challenge is at its peak:
Use Your Carbs Wisely
When it comes to fuelling up before a challenge, carbohydrates are a wonderful thing; eating a meal that’s high in carbohydrates a few hours before riding will help your body build up your glycogen levels and as a result keep your blood sugar stable for the duration of your event.
Since Gran Fondo begins first thing in the morning it’s wise to start building up glycogen the day before by increasing your carb intake to around 8 to 10 grams per kg of your body mass; if this seems like a tall order, don’t forget to eat carb-rich snacks between meals and/or drink carb-heavy fluids to combat a decrease in glycogen through the night.
One big mistake I see cyclists make all the time is waiting until they’re starting to feel worn out or hungry before taking the time to refuel; if you’re starting to get tired or feel the need to eat, chances are your blood sugar has dropped and there’s nothing worse for performance.
Always take the time to keep your body fueled up by getting some calories in within the first half-hour of the ride and be sure to consume around 100 calories for each half an hour of cycling; by taking in small amounts at regular intervals you’ll keep things steady and help keep digestion manageable.
Manage Your Hydration
Allowing your body to dehydrate will almost always end in disaster as far as performance; throughout your ride your body will lose significant amounts of water through sweat, and for any ride that lasts for more than an hour it’s vital to take in both carbs and electrolytes.|
Whether you’ve stocked up on water or electrolyte fluids, aim to take in at least a mouthful every ten minutes or so in order to stay at the optimal hydration levels; electrolyte drinks are a great idea as they tend to both keep thirst up and help your body retain fluid.
Don’t Forget to Recover
Adequate recovery is so important and your recovery nutrition should start within 10 to 15 minutes of completing your event; taking in a light snack that combines both protein and carbs will help promote proper muscle repair while replacing valuable energy and electrolytes.
Recovery not only helps the body balance itself after a challenging ride, it also helps ensure that your muscles will be in optimum shape for future events; good recovery is vital for overall performance so be sure to remember to be good to your body.
That’s it for my favorite nutritional tips; by increasing your carbs, maintaining good hydration levels and recovering well you can not only be sure of your body’s peak performance during events, you can help your body attain optimal conditioning for all future challenges.