Wow - I really didn't think I had it in me for another day in the hills of San Antonio FL yesterday morning. After a very challenging ~2:45 ride (challenging in that staying on Karel's wheel for almost three hours on flat ground can be tough - but the ups and downs of hills have me releasing my inner Jens Voigt "Shut up Legs") and a brutally hot almost 1 hour run, I was beat all day on Saturday. I was in bed by 9:30am although I think I could have called it a day around 4pm.
We woke up early on Sunday so Karel could join the group in San Antonio for a little to see if he still had any surges left in his category 1 cycling legs.....while on his tri bike.
When we arrived to the famous San Antonio parking lot (if you are there after 8pm, good luck finding a parking spot as it is filled w/ bike racks and mdot stickers on cars) I was worried about my energy during the ride. We had an endurance bike on the schedule - almost 4 hours and I was really concerned about my mind and body working together. I hate that foggy feeling in my head during long rides but I kept reminding myself that within the past year and a half - since really focusing on my nutrition before, during and after workouts - I have not experienced that feeling, nor have I struggled w/ recovery, energy or getting sick.
I trusted my fueling and I trusted my mind and before I knew it, I was on Karel's wheel for his warm-up and feeling great. 2 hours and 20 minutes later, I met up with Karel after he pulled me around for about 90 more minutes for an almost 4 hour ride in the hills.
Amazingly - I felt amazing. If you would have asked me to anticipate my energy post ride, at 5:30am that morning, I would have likely said I would be suffering.
After the ride, we did a quick 2.5 mile run and legs didn't feel heavy as I was able to average a steady 7:29 min/mile for 2 miles and then cool down.
A quick stop at the gas station for a chocolate milk and I was shocked as to how good my body felt - considering the possibility of residual fatigue from Saturday.
I felt much better on Sunday compared to Saturday...how could that be??
Oh - the beauty of nutrient timing.
I've been diligent about my nutrition during workouts (as well as fueling pre workout to help control hunger and help w/ recovery and energy during workouts) considering the constant reminders from Karel "It isn't a contest as to how little fuel you can take in before, during or after a workout" when I consider whether or not I need that swig of gel in the last 20 minutes of a bike before the run, bringing liquid calories w/ me during all runs off the bike or if I need to add 50 calories per bottle during my long rides. Now, it's a no brainer. The better I fuel, the harder I train, the quicker I recover and the easier it is to do it all over again the next time/day in order to get stronger. I don't aspire to be lean...I want to have a strong body that will perform well.
Do you focus on nutrient timing as an athlete? I started to appreciate this topic while in grad school for exercise physiology but it wasn't until I started applying scientific principles to my own training routine, that I started to recognize the vital importance of "eating for fuel". Now I can help others prolong training/reduce fatigue, boost immune system, quicken recovery and improve insulin sensitivity. Here's a little insight in the topic of nutrient timing around workouts:
-During exercise catabolic (break down) hormones (ex. epinephrine, cortisol, glucagon) prepare the body to use glucose (from muscle and liver glycogen) for fuel. They also increase heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac functioning, blood redistribution and respiration rate to withstand stress during training. It is the anabolic (build up) hormones that support muscle growth (hypertrophy), repair tissues, reduce inflammation, regulate macronutrient metabolism (carbs, protein, fat) which include IGF-I, insulin, testosterone and growth hormone.
-Of importance to you as the athlete, especially if you struggle w/ recovery, feel run-down a lot (or get sick a lot) or feel extreme hunger or mood changes post workout: During prolonged exercise, cortisol levels continue to increase, muscle glycogen is gradually decreasing and insulin sensitivity decreases. By focusing on your pre, during and post training nutrition you can boost nutrient transport to muscles (ex. carbohydrates and amino acids), reduce the loss of glyocgen and protein during exercise, enhance recovery (for more consistent training) and reduce muscle damage while strengthening the immune system.
-Keep it simple:
Pre training: Toast, banana or plain cereal (ex. shredded wheat) w/ PB, milk or an egg.
During: Sport drink, consistently every 10-15 minutes - liquids, calories, carbohydrates, electrolytes.
Post - Whey protein brown rice + Pea (vegan) smoothie, cow's milk (low fat) or chocolate milk (low fat)