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  1. #1
    Senior Member bernmart's Avatar
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    Nutrition for a fairly hard century?

    I did the Solvang Century here in CA last Saturday, and completely ran out of steam around mile 85. Literally had to rest every 1 1/2 miles, and finally gave up and sagged to the finish. Only my 2d dnf out of 6 centuries, but it rankles.

    There's certainly a training issue to be addressed: I need more miles (hard to do and work too) and more hills. But I suspect a nutrition issue also. Normally I don't eat much breakfast, and snack through the day until dinner. I pretty much do the same on Century days: very light breakfast, and I take along power bars, gels, etc. I snacked pretty aggressively at every other rest stop. The hills were steep and the headwinds ferocious, but the temperatures were perfect, and I still couldn't keep my energy up.

    Any and all advice welcome. BTW, I'm 6'2", 190 lbs. And I'm 69 years of age. But I refuse to excuse myself because of age.
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  2. #2
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Sausage rolls with cheese. I brought some on my first century and ate one every hour.
    You get fats, carbs, and proteins- exactly what you need on a really long ride.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

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    Senior Member condiment's Avatar
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    If your doctor has no objections you might want to try carb loading before events. Carb loading basically ensures that your body's stores of energy in the muscle and liver are maximized, which will help you determine if your inability to finish strong is caused by a deficiency of training or one of nutrition.

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    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Mile 80-85 is usually right around where most DNFs happen on centuries. Start slower, eat more in the first few hours. Liquid nourishment in the last hours. Don't eat too much, don't eat too little. Don't ride too hard, don't ride too easy. Am I helping?

    It's just practice. You have to find what's right for you.

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    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Sounds like a major case of the bonk, brought on by not eating enough.

    What I've found to work well for long rides is: 1) eat a large, high-carb dinner (typically pasta) the night before 2) a larger-than-usual high-protein breakfast (a 3-egg omelette) the morning of the ride 3) eat continuously on the bike, 200-300 calories per hour (half a Powerbar every half hour), right off the bat 4) Energy drinks in the bottles or water pack (Cytomax works for me). 5) Eat a bunch at each rest stop (but not too much - it can be a fine line).

    I follow this plan on any ride over 50 miles, and it's served me well on distances up to 1000k brevets. And I still lose an average of 1 lb for every 50 miles. I've tried eating more during the ride, and found that 200-300 cal is about all I can take in w/o feeling bloated. There's been medical research that indicates this is typical.

    Hope this helps.

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  6. #6
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    I rode the Solvang Century last Sat. too, and while I'm younger than you are (58), I didn't have any issues (well, it was kinda cold over the first 15 miles!), so here's what I did for nutrition:

    Breakfast: 1 banana, 1 carton Yogurt, 1 Quaker breakfast bar

    Started ride with: 1 bottle SPIZ, I bottle Gatorade (7:00 AM)

    First rest stop: Still doing fine, plenty of liquids, didn't stop.

    2nd rest stop: Refilled SPIZ (had used about 3/4 bottle).

    3rd rest stop (Santa Maria): Refilled SPIZ (had used almost full bottle), topped off Gatorade bottle with water. This was 10:30 AM.

    4th rest stop: Refilled with SPIZ (used full bottle), refilled 2nd bottle with water (all Gatorade gone).

    5th rest stop: Refilled with SPIZ (used about 3/4 bottle), refilled 2nd bottle with water (used about 1/2).

    Finished into Solvang right at 1:00 PM.

    With all that SPIZ (free at the rest stops) I wasn't the least bit hungry at the finish, still felt strong, good, nothing hurting, no problems!

    Lovely day, beautiful scenery, great people to ride with (fairly high level of rider skill-level) and basically just rode along (JRA!) all day.

    You don't say whether you used the SPIZ that was available at each rest stop . . . or not. But just FYI (if you don't already know) SPIZ is one of those "Complete Meal" drinks, similar to Sustained Energy (SPIZ is whey based, Sustained Energy is soy based).

    Hope that helps!

    Rick / OCRR

  7. #7
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    sounds like you should eat a bigger breakfast, or just eat more altogether.

    i find that real food (eggs/bacon/toast/cereal/etc as opposed to clif bars or gels) in the morning gives me the energy i need for most of the day. then you can do light snacking on top of that, but you need a good foundation (of food) to go on. least i do.

    best of luck! i hope i'm still pedaling when i'm that young. =]
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  8. #8
    Cycling Skier songfta's Avatar
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    I find that the nutrition and hydration for a century start the week before, with a gradual build-up toward the big day filled with a balance of carbs and protein. And be sure you're drinking enough for the week going into the ride: you don't want to enter the day in any state of dehydration, even a mild one.

    On the day of, my tip is to pace yourself, drink steadily, and make sure your electrolytes stay in check. Eat a well-balanced breakfast (my norm is a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and bananas, two eggs, bacon or sausage, whole grain toast, cup of yogurt, a tall glass of OJ, and coffee). Make sure you eat breakfast at least an hour before you ride, to assure that things settle.

    On the bike, I tend to use Hammer HEED and Hammer Perpeteum on really long rides. HEED is nice and light tasting, even at full strength, and Perpeteum is a great meal replacement. I also have some energy gels at the ready (love the Honey Stinger Gold), and eat regular food as well (bananas, pretzels, PB&J, watermelon and salted or baked potatoes if an aid station has 'em).

    But a lot of it is also training for the bonk, and teaching your body to get past it. My first century rides had me in agony from mile 83 to mile 90, even though I was keeping pace in terms of water, electrolytes, and whatnot. As I rode more long-distance rides, I managed to train my body to work well over 100+ miles. It was a gradual process, but now things are a lot easier because I know how my body reacts over such long distances.

    And audition various drinks and supplements until you find one that works for you. Many times, riders find that the energy drink that's good for 50 miles makes 'em want to heave at 80 miles. And that's just a matter of trying out the various options and settling on what works for you.

    One other thing: be sure to refuel promptly and properly after the ride is over. That way, you preserve all of the muscular gain and minimize recovery time agony.

    Good luck!
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  9. #9
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Since you mentioned HEED and the Hammer family of products...

    Is there an equivalent product to Perpetuem, not from Hammer? Is Accelerade similar in nutritional content? I ask because I've got a bad reaction to Hammer Gels and I don't know that I want to chance it with another of their products. For some reason, Hammer Gels make me throw up about 10 minutes after eating them. Never had that issue with any other gel, and it concerns me that Perpetuem might do the same thing to me.
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  10. #10
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernmart View Post
    I did the Solvang Century here in CA last Saturday, and completely ran out of steam around mile 85. Literally had to rest every 1 1/2 miles, and finally gave up and sagged to the finish. Only my 2d dnf out of 6 centuries, but it rankles.

    There's certainly a training issue to be addressed: I need more miles (hard to do and work too) and more hills. But I suspect a nutrition issue also. Normally I don't eat much breakfast, and snack through the day until dinner. I pretty much do the same on Century days: very light breakfast, and I take along power bars, gels, etc. I snacked pretty aggressively at every other rest stop. The hills were steep and the headwinds ferocious, but the temperatures were perfect, and I still couldn't keep my energy up.

    Any and all advice welcome. BTW, I'm 6'2", 190 lbs. And I'm 69 years of age. But I refuse to excuse myself because of age.
    You're riding too hard. Slow down and enjoy the scenery.

    My guess is that you are riding a century like you do a shorter club ride and you are well into anerobic metabolism. As a result, you are burning through glycogen like crazy. You can generally only digest 250 cal/hr of carbohydrates (maybe less with age?) no matter how much you eat.

    So, next time, try taking it easier and see how it goes.

  11. #11
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    I think you're getting good advice here. Pay especial attention to the folks suggesting more protein. It can be a bit counterintuitive -- considering how much emphasis is placed on carbs by the health-club set -- but when you're riding all day you need food that will provide energy over the long haul. The classic road racer's breakfast is rare steak and rice, if that gives you an idea. Trying to supply your body for 6+ hours of effort with PowerBars, carb drinks, and cookies often doesn't work particularly well, as you seem to have discovered. As funny as Hobartlemagne's suggestion of sausage rolls and cheese may seem, it's not far off from the foil-wrapped sandwiches that used to be -- and maybe still are -- a pro road racer's staple.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernmart View Post
    I did the Solvang Century here in CA last Saturday, and completely ran out of steam around mile 85. Literally had to rest every 1 1/2 miles, and finally gave up and sagged to the finish. Only my 2d dnf out of 6 centuries, but it rankles.

    There's certainly a training issue to be addressed: I need more miles (hard to do and work too) and more hills. But I suspect a nutrition issue also. Normally I don't eat much breakfast, and snack through the day until dinner. I pretty much do the same on Century days: very light breakfast, and I take along power bars, gels, etc. I snacked pretty aggressively at every other rest stop. The hills were steep and the headwinds ferocious, but the temperatures were perfect, and I still couldn't keep my energy up.

    Any and all advice welcome. BTW, I'm 6'2", 190 lbs. And I'm 69 years of age. But I refuse to excuse myself because of age.
    I'm going to disagree with the others - I think you are probably eating enough, especially if you were eating aggressively at every other rest stop. Your goal should be 200-300 cal/hour of mostly carbs and a bit of protein. That's really not very much food, and people are more likely to overeat than undereat on centuries, in my experience.

    I do have one possible idea, however.

    If you are on a low salt diet and/or you didn't get much salt at the stops, you may have run out of salt. Your body's reserves are only a few grams and it's easy to sweat out enough to drop your blood salt considerably. When this happens, you can just hit a wall where you feel hydrated enough, full enough, but just have no energy.

    If you were drinking a fair bit and weren't feeling the urge to get rid of any of it, that's a good sign that that's what's going on - you can't excrete the water without salt and your body will preserve it by stashing the water in your cells.

    I use salt supplements (succeed tabs) on my long rides - something with about 300mg/tablet. I might take one every couple of hours up to two/hour if it's really hot and I'm going to be out 5+ hours. Hammer's Endurolytes are pretty useless for this, with a trivial 40mg/capsule.

    Note that if you're one of the 10% who is salt-sensitive and has blood pressure issues from it, you should speak to your physician about it.

    Here's a post that I wrote that covers it in a bit more detail...

    http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx/archive/2007/08.aspx
    Eric

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  13. #13
    Senior Member bernmart's Avatar
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    Good advice indeed; not a demeaning or ironic comment in the bunch. Keep 'em coming by all means, but I sure have a lot to work with, and think about. Thanks, everyone.
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  14. #14
    Cycling Skier songfta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu View Post
    I'm going to disagree with the others - I think you are probably eating enough, especially if you were eating aggressively at every other rest stop. Your goal should be 200-300 cal/hour of mostly carbs and a bit of protein. That's really not very much food, and people are more likely to overeat than undereat on centuries, in my experience.

    I do have one possible idea, however.

    If you are on a low salt diet and/or you didn't get much salt at the stops, you may have run out of salt. Your body's reserves are only a few grams and it's easy to sweat out enough to drop your blood salt considerably. When this happens, you can just hit a wall where you feel hydrated enough, full enough, but just have no energy.
    Good points. The typical, healthy diet has a good amount of carbs. And the protein can't be underestimated: long-duration endurance sports require more protein than the average athletic endeavor. Without the protein, the body can - and sometimes will - resort to using its own muscle as a protein source.

    But the role of electrolytes - namely sodium, potassium and calcium - can't be overstated. Electrolytes are essential for muscular function, and without them, your legs will feel like bricks. Sports drinks and supplements tend to have a decent amount of sodium and potassium, as do a lot of other foods. But, as was stated by the previous author, many of us are on reduced sodium diets, which aren't a big liability in most areas of life, but can really deny the ideal setup for endurance endeavors.

    I sweat a lot (thank you, genetics), and make a point of keeping my electrolyte levels up. I even go so far as to put a pinch or two of salt in my plain water bottles - just enough to barely taste it. The sports drinks - whether it's HEED, Accelerade, Gatorade, PowerAde - have a lot of sodium, and often a bit of potassium. So I usually ride with a bottle each of water (with the dash of salt) and sports drink. If it's really bad or there's a long distance between planned (or possible) stops, I'll also stuff a small bottle in my jersey pocket with either water or sports drink in it.

    And I eat. The better centuries offer foods with sodium and potassium at the rest stops. You'll see pretzels, potatoes with salt, PB&J (a good protein source, too) and other such things at aid stations - take advantage, but don't go overboard, as you don't want your body diverting too much energy toward digestion.

    . . .

    To the person who asks if the Accelerade folks make a Perpeteum-like drink: not that I'm aware of. I know that some people have adverse reactions to the sweeteners used in HEED. Endurox has a similar purpose, and might be worth a try. Or you can simply eat simple, solid foods to get a similar effect.
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  15. #15
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I agree with most of the above posts. ~250 calories per hour (mostly carbs with some electrolytes) and 500-750ml of liquid (preferably an energy drink) should usually do the trick.

    If you're going to regularly do centuries, I also highly recommend you get an HRM. When you are actually doing the event, you want to avoid going anaerobic at all costs. Anaerobic exercise will chew up a lot of your blood glycogen and makes your metabolism work much harder. Note that you may need low gears in order to climb without sending your heart rate through the roof.

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