Training for Endurance Means Fueling Well

Endurance sports appeal to athletes of all levels. Training is, of course, specific and necessary in order to achieve satisfying results. Nutrition, or fueling, is often overlooked as an integral part of training. The following appeared in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus, Sunday, ACTIVE VERMONT 8-2-2015

The tortoise and the hare of training and sports, by Linda Freeman

Endurance. The negative connotation of endurance is of tolerance, resignation, stoicism; certainly long-suffering. On the other hand, endurance is often linked with patience and perseverance that demonstrates moral and physical strength. Endurance of any kind is based on experience, practice and tenacity. Physically, endurance is built on a foundation of consistent, appropriate and adequate training.

Sports often fall quite neatly into one of two categories: aerobic and anaerobic, marathon and sprint, fight or flight, tortoise and hare.

A sprint, for example, requires a sudden, swift burst of energy that pushes to the point of pain or even collapse, the very end of one’s competitive rope. A marathon takes hours to complete. Though runners now race at surprisingly fast paces for such continuous exertion, it is still a slower pace than the 400-meter dash.

Athletes train for their sport with a mixture of base-building, LSD (long slow distance) combined with intervals, high-intensity work with built-in breaks.

Team sports are often more fun to watch than individual endurance events, but even the infielder, goalie or forward who must be ready to move, and move fast, must also have the endurance to play through one game or even an entire tournament.

Consider these: adventure sports, running (half-marathons are increasing in popularity, marathons, and the new darlings of the running world, ultra-distance trail events), triathlons (swim, bike, run), cycling (even casual riders score a century of 100 miles along with mountain bike marathons and grand fondos of “great distance or great endurance”).

Golf (18 to 36 holes), fishing derbies, single- or multi-day hikes and daily or weeklong sports camps are yet more examples of the need for endurance as a significant tool in one’s fitness and performance toolbox.

For the average person, endurance sports are possibly more accessible than speed events. Remove factors of genetic predisposition, skill, and even budget from the equation, activities based on acquiring endurance are, in some form, universally achievable.

Furthermore, endurance sports are often cited as a metaphor for life, a field on which to play out the challenges one faces daily, personally and professionally. Endurance requires practice, discipline, focus and the equanimity to continue through ups and downs. In competition or in real life, the power to finish, especially to finish strong, is evidence of the depth of preparation and training, of mental, physical and emotional endurance.

Other than spending long, carefully planned and executed hours of physical training, fueling well before, during and after an endurance event is as critical as the strength and skills you have worked so hard to acquire. No longer does one stuff a plateful of pasta the night before an event and assume that it will satisfy nutritional needs. Today, the concept is to eat and drink well all the time, not just during taper week or the day before. What, when and how to fuel needs to be as strategically planned and executed as each step or mile along the way.

Nutrition is a complex and often confusing topic. Below, Kimberly Evans, MS, RD, organizes and simplifies strategies for you to sample as you prepare for your next endurance event. If you train well and fuel sufficiently, you will give yourself the opportunity to perform your best and have much more fun as you do so.

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

Don’t forget the nutritional needs of staying active                           By KIMBERLY EVANS

We are fully into cycling season here in Vermont, and one thing that is on everyone’s mind, as it well should be, is cycling safety. Cyclists are heading out in pairs or groups, wearing brightly colored clothing, securely fastening their helmets and riding far enough to the left to be in the line of vision of motorists, but not so far as to be in the middle of the road.

However, one aspect of cycling safety that might not be high on the minds of riders is nutrition. Many experienced cyclists know that good nutrition is key to race day performance, but outside training and racing many cyclists don’t really consider nutrition as part of their riding experience.

Now you might be asking, what does nutrition have to do with cycling safety? When you are not fueling properly on the bike you are much more likely to be less alert and responsive and, if out on a long ride and not fueling properly, you are vulnerable to making poor decisions. In other words, your head just might not be fully in the game … or in the ride, as the case may be. Poorly fueled riders are more likely to make poor decisions and more likely to be involved in crashes. So here are some key points to consider when heading out for a long ride:

The last supper

Heading out for a long ride tomorrow? Make sure to really fuel up the day before and take special care to focus on a carbohydrate-rich diet. A great pre-ride dinner might be 1 cup of brown rice, a 4-ounce piece of salmon and an oatmeal cookie. High fiber and heavy foods should be avoided the night before a long or hard ride.

Fuel up

A good pre-ride breakfast will also be rich in carbohydrates. Don’t skimp but don’t overeat. A few of my favorites include oatmeal with berries, buckwheat waffles with bananas, or whole grain pancakes with a Greek yogurt. Aim for about 500-700 calories in the 2 hours before your ride.

If you cannot get all of your fuel in with solid food                                                      add a sports drink such as Skratch Labs or                                                                             a homemade electrolyte, anti-oxidant lemonade:

1 large lemon, juiced.
2 tablespoons of honey.
1 pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt.                                                                8-10 ounces of water.                                                                            Raspberries.

Plan ahead

Before every ride consider what you might need to bring to fuel your ride; how many water bottles, how much sports drink and how much solid food.

Some targets are one 16-ounce bottle of water for every hour on the bike, 300 calories of fuel for every hour on the bike, and a source of electrolytes for hot riding days. Think about packaging 300 calorie snack bags for every hour you will be on the bike.

Some of my favorite 300-calorie fuel packs include: a Kind bar plus a half-bottle of Skratch Labs, half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a half-cup of trail mix or dried fruit such as dates.

How will you carry all of this fuel? Most cycling shirts have great back pockets that make it easy to store fuel. I have also fallen in love with the biking Bento box. The Bento box is a nylon pouch that sits just behind your stem, making it easy and safe to eat from the saddle.

If you are less inclined to bring fuel with you on the bike, plan ahead to stop along the ride. Where are the gas stations, convenience stores or favorite latte shops along your route?

No matter how you fuel, a nutrition plan is the safest and best way to make sure that you not only don’t bonk on your ride, but also really maximize your performance as an athlete.

If you are really going the distance, and training for a ride of some distance — such as a half-century, a century or a brevet — I would highly recommend consulting with a dietitian with a specialization in sports nutrition for a fueling and hydration plan that considers your daily needs in the months and weeks leading up to the event in addition to your specific needs to fuel your ride.

If you are not hitting the road this summer on your bike, these smart fueling practices likely still apply to you. From team sports to endurance athletes of all ages and competitive abilities, proper nutrition enhances performance and athletic enjoyment.

Kimberly Evans co-owns Peak Physical Therapy Sports and Performance Center and Whole Health Nutrition in Williston. Contact or 999-9207.