Fuel Correctly For Your Target Race

Jarred Salzwedel, sports scientist and coach at Science To Sport, takes you through the correct fueling strategies, from breakfast to recovery, for Sunday’s Cape Town Cycle Tour.

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The main thing to remember is not to do anything differently on race day. It’s a nutritional no-no to try products you haven’t used before, because they could cause negative side effects for you on the day. If you want to try something, do it on a hard training ride a few weeks before the race.

Breakfast: Go for carbs. Our bodies use carbs more readily than other fuel sources. Oats is the perfect pre-race meal. You should eat two hours to 90 minutes before the start time.

30 Minutes To Go Time: Top up with half a protein bar or half a banana 30 minutes before the start. Also, drink 500ml of an electrolyte drink – sip it slowly.

During the race: The general principle is 60g to 80g of carbs an hour. Take small sips very often of a high-carb electrolyte drink, and eat the other half of the protein bar or banana. A common mistake is that during the first hour, you get drawn into the race and forget to eat – or you get overexcited, and stuff your face.

After Misty Cliffs, there’s a short climb where you’ll have to dig deep to hang with the bunch. But know that when you turn right to Ocean View, there’s a moment for recovery as you head to Chapman’s Peak. Take advantage of this time to eat something solid, and drink your energy drink.

After the second hour, riders going for a sub-3 and who are used to gels should consider taking a gel. You should train with gels if you are considering using them in the Cycle Tour. It’s important to train your gut – you don’t want to get caught short. Gels are a high-energy source, and will give you a spike. So continue taking them every 20 to 30 minutes. If you take gels, it’s important to remember to drink a lot of water during the race – and/or straight after.

At the bottom of Chappies, top up with your electrolyte or energy drink, because Suikerbossie gets quite hot.

Recovery: Don’t head to the beer tent just yet – alcohol dehydrates you, and you need to be rehydrated.. First have a chocolate milk and 500ml of water, and something solid to eat – but not too high in carbs, as you would have had a lot of carbs during the race. Biltong is a good choice.

Now, go and get that beer (or three).

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