One of the biggest struggles I have had throughout all of my athletic adventures has been fueling appropriately. It’s either been too much (ehem, LA) or too little (ehem, New York), and unfortunately I still don’t have it down yet. Thankfully, I have my trusty Coach now and as we are getting into longer rides, here was his early fueling advice:
For a 3 hour ride, you should be eating 200-250 calories/hour beginning about 15 minutes into the ride. From a hydration standpoint, you should be drinking about 24oz. of fluid per hour. Had the temperatures been over 80F, you would have had to increase that fluid intake to 30+oz./hour. Play around with different calorie and fluid amounts on your long rides and runs to see what works best for your body.
With an almost four-hour/55+ mile ride on tap this weekend, I knew that I couldn’t wait any longer trying to practice and find my perfect fueling strategy. Some quick mental math indicated that for this ride, I should consume at 800 – 1,000 calories and drink about 96 oz. of fluid. 1,000 calories? What?! It seemed like an extraordinarily large amount to me.
I laid out some new fueling options I had shoved in my fuel box and even with all of that food, I was only around 600-700 calories. I thought that there was no way I would eat more than that on the ride. I grabbed one more pack of ClifBlocks and thought that should suffice. What an idiot.
I’m pretty sure Saturday’s ride was worthy of a new nickname. Perhaps, Butter Fingers? I ended up dropping the entire pack of ClifBlocks, turned around to get it, and dropped it again. I muttered a few expletives and said, “Forget it.” To add to my cycling shame, I’m still too much of a Fred to smoothly drink on my bike and I barely finished my entire bottle in the four hour ride – which includes dropping it once as well.
In addition to my inappropriately timed slippery fingers, I also was trying new types of food. I’ve never had something as solid as a ClifBar on a ride before, nor had I ever had a Stinger Waffle. Two hours into the ride when I tried the waffle, I thought to myself, “What the hell is this?” It’s like a cookie with a hardened Gu waffle on the inside – weird. But around three and a half hours, I gave it another try and you might as well told me it was one of these it tasted so good:
The pure deliciousness of the waffle was a sure sign that I was starving and not fueling appropriately. Needless to say, I have a lot of fueling practice to do: getting enough in to sustain my energy and, well, just holding on to the damn things.
What is your long ride/run fueling strategy? What’s your fuel of choice?