Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Half Iron Fueling Example and Logistics, how you actually do it in real life

I started this in A race season when I was fielding questions on how to actually accomplish carrying your nutrition and hydration during a race and in training. So, the athlete knows how many calories they want to get in, but how do you actually make it happen.

It's an interesting question, the solution sits at the confluence of metabolic needs, effort during the race, aerodynamics and comfort. This is what seems to work well for me and the athletes I work with.

What follows is largely based off of an email I sent to one of my athletes a few weeks before the big race.

The first thing to consider is how many calories should be used during the race. There are a few different ways to figure it, for the bike we use 1.75 calories per pound of body weight per hour. This is actually a little light and when I look at race reports from pros and top amateurs who say what they took in, it is usually a little higher than 1.75 cals / lb / hour. On the other hand, new athletes who maybe haven't cracked the nut of a high quality run at half iron or maybe haven't done it before usually balk when I first say they need to take in that much, claiming it to be too high. But to set yourself up for a good run, this seems to work well. For the people I coach this is where we start with our race simulations, if an athlete can uses this fueling plan for a race simulation brick and executes a good run then it might be prudent to consider lower calories. In my experience that has never happened, if any changes are made it is to a higher calorie intake.

So 1.75 cals/lb/hour.
(See note 1 below for information on contrary thoughts)

How to get your calories in.

Firstly, you want to split your hydration and calories to the degree you can. This means in practical terms you want to have a water source, an overconcentrated calorie source and maybe a supplemental drink.

Here's how I recommend it.

1. Aero bottle
2. Bare frame (aerodynamics, worth a minute or so for half iron)
3. Behind the seat water bottle holder, setup lower than the saddle or as low as possible. (worth real time savings over frame bottles.

125 pound cyclist * 3 hours * 1.75 calories per pound per hour = 650 calories
A 24 ounce bottle of gatorade has 150 calories in it, so you need an extra 500 calories in it. You can easily get 500 calories of maltodextrin into a 24 ounce gatorade squirt bottle.

Mixing the Maltodextrin
Empty half of the gatorade bottle, put the maltodextrin in it, cover and shake the ever living snot out of it. Then fill it back up with gatorade, you'll only have a little gatorade left over.

We pretty much know how many calories you need but hydration needs vary widely with temperature. Drinking when thirsty works BUT, you need to have water available. If there is any question of whether you will run out, you will subconsciously not drink as much. Also, if it is a pain to get to your drink, you won't drink it, so you need a hydration source accessible. Since you are using a concentrated calorie source, straight water is the best choice for hydration. You use the straight water to chase the calorie source. A very concentrated calorie source in your stomach is trouble, so you chase with water to help make the molecular concentration of the solution in your stomach pretty close to that in your blood.

The other thing to have would be sports drink, whatever is on the course of your a race so you can practice with it. What I recommend is having one bottle of straight water and one of sports drink. The calories go in on a schedule ad are chased with straight water. At any other time during the race if you are thirsty, then use the water or sports drink as you feel the need for it. Sometimes you will want just water and other times the sports drink.

So what goes where:
You need three bottles
1. Sport drink goes in the aero bottle. This is your default drink when thirsty, has some electrolytes and some calories in it.
2. A high concentration calorie source, for half iron this usually can go in a single 24 ounce bike bottle carried on a behind the seat bottle carrier.
3. One bottle of straight water, also on the behind the seat bottle holder.

How to do it:
Your calorie source should last the entire ride, so you schedule it. Every 15 minutes you take a small swig of your drink. In 18 miles you should have drank 1/3rd of the bottle, after 36 miles 2/3rds and so on. Every sip of the calorie source you chase with a drink of straight water.

In between, when you are just thirsty, take a drink of whatever you are thirsty for. If thirsty for the gatorade, then drink that, thirsty for the straight water, then drink that. When your water or sports drink bottles run out during the race, you replace from the course.

And what about training:
On long training days, you leave the water bottle cages on your frame and use your jersey pockets. Each of your three jersey pockets can hold one of the 20 ounce cycling bottles, that should get you though the day.That helps it go down.

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