Fuel Essentials with Rocket (Dr. Christy Keely PT, DPT)
It's Rocket from Rocket Revolution. I'm very excited for the Gravel Battle of Sumter Forest! To make sure you have the best time (double entendre!) let's go over some fuel essentials:
**Do not try anything new the day of the race and please get with your coach or health care provider for specifics.**
1. Pre-loading: I recommend athletes pre-load for hydration the day before an endurance event. I like athletes hydrated to the point of feeling borderline 'puffy' on the start line. This includes having more sodium and water the day before an event. I love how this has a nice high sodium content for pre-loading. If you are going to try pre-loading, do it before a big workout, NOT the day before the race for the first time.
2. Bottles: Hydrate with about 1 bottle per hour. This means sipping every 5-10 minutes to keep from drawing resources to the digestive system. Bottles are a great place to keep nutrition and/or electrolytes. If you are going "party pace", and want to eat/enjoy your calories, then this is the way to go. It provides lots of minerals lost in sweat that are needed for muscle activation and sending electrical signals for coordination! If you are going to be at more of a ''race pace" effort, then having calories in your bottle, like Skratch, or UCan is a great way to multi-task.
3. Edibles: If you are a rider that needs more calories while pedaling, I recommend having something tasty in your pocket that is going to also make you feel good. I often see a lot of very good-intentioned ride food...not eaten. If you are going to eat on the bike, you need something to motivate you to take your hands off the handle bars, and good tasting ride fuel is important for that. I also recommend cutting open all of your ride food before the start, so it's even easier to get to during the event.
4. Gels: Near the end of a ''race pace'' effort (that's when effort starts to move towards and above 80%) I recommend moving toward gels to get easily digestible fuel into the bloodstream quickly. I advise not starting this until you are within 60-90 minutes of the finish. Once you start with gels, generally you need to keep using a gel every 20 minutes or so. Too many gels can upset some stomachs so make sure you try this during a hard training ride before event day.
4. Cramps: If you cramp, try this portable pickle juice. Some say the tartness inhibits the brain from sending faulty signals to a cramping muscle. Some think the salt and vinegar provide sodium while creating an alkaline environment. Regardless, if you can stomach it, this usually works!
5. Finish line: After the race, get some solid food in your stomach quickly! Southeast Gravel provides a post race meal, but if you are ever in a pinch for something portable that metabolizes like solid food, these don't need to be refrigerated and have a nice balance of fat, protein, and carb. Also, I love how simple the ingredient label is. Consider keeping it in your car, office bag, or gym bag.
6. Party time: Celebrate your experience responsibly. You will be dehydrated, and you don't want to feel extra bad the next day. Grab an Athletic Brewing non-alcoholic beer, to keep next day inflammation to a minimum.
Everyone's nutrition should be custom to their day and their body. Please remember to try new strategies BEFORE race day, and come up with your plan a few days out from the event. This will prevent nerves from making your fueling decisions. "I'm not going to need food, I'll be fine," sounds rational right after breakfast when you have nervous sweat even though it's 50 degrees out. This will really haunt you when you are 3 hours into the day and suddenly wondering why you even got out of bed. Please get with your coach, or health care provider (or me!) if you have any questions specific to your body and goals.
Dr. Christy Keely PT, DPT