What To Eat After Cycling – Tips To Maximise Recovery

What To Eat After Cycling – Tips To Maximise Recovery

Your post-ride meal is one of the most important of the day but it’s not just what you eat and drink after a hard ride that matters but when you consume it too. Get it right and you’ll feel fired up and ready to ride again soon. Get it wrong, and your performance will drop.

After training, or a long ride, your body needs time to return to its normal physiological state. This process is dependent on rest but also on what you consume when you get off your bike.

It’s easy to think that a downing a recovery drink means you’ve got recovery in hand but to truly replenish your carbohydrate stores, as well as replacing the fluid and salts lost during training, you need more than just one drink. “You can kick start your recovery immediately after training but the process needs to continue for several hours after a ride,” says Annie Simpson, performance nutritionist at OTE Sports.

TWO WINDOWS

Research suggests there is a 30-minute window of opportunity in which to begin your recovery. A quick and convenient way to do this is with a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein but a combination of real food and sports nutrition works too – try 220g of beans on two slices of toast and an electrolyte drink, or a large bowl of cereal with milk and half a protein bar.

Hydration is also vital. If the ride was easy and under 90 minutes sipping a 500ml bottle of water or electrolyte drink should be sufficient to rehydrate. But if it was a long or intense session, aim to replace 100-150% of the fluid lost through sweat within one to four hours of hopping off your bike. (Work this out by weighing yourself before and after a ride – every 1/2 kg lost equals roughly 500ml of fluid.)

To continue your recovery you should eat a more substantial meal within two hours of a ride. This should include lean protein such as eggs, chicken, tuna or tofu along with complex carbs such as whole grain pasta, rice, or sweet potato and some fat – try avocado. This meal is vital for the body to replenish the carbohydrates stores used during exercise and provides amino acids and fats to help build and repair muscles.

However, says Simpson, to really speed up recovery there is some evidence that it’s better to eat little and often. Some elite athletes prefer to eat a smaller portion of protein and carbohydrates every two to three hours after a training session, particularly if they are training again later that day. They may continue this pattern for up to six hours.

POST RIDE MEAL

  • Carbohydrate to replenish glycogen stores – 0.8-1g/kg (e.g. a 70 kg cyclist would need 56-70g of carbs – around 4 slices of wholemeal bread)
  • Protein to repair damaged muscle tissue – 20-25g (a small chicken breast)
  • Fat – a small amount of fat is thought to help promote muscle repair (half an avocado)

OPTIMAL RECOVERY

Alongside a disciplined nutrition strategy, sleep, rest and stretching are also vital to recovery. But it’s worth considering other techniques too.

Supplements such as Omega 3 and tart cherry juice are new recovery techniques thought to help reduce muscle inflammation and the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset of muscles fatigue).

Other research points to a more individual approach. After all, no two cyclists are the same. Biomarkers (short for biological markers) are biological indicators that can be measured to build a picture of a person’s biological state. They can shine a light on an individual’s nutrition, hydration status, muscle status and potential risk of injury, which can allow athletes to fine-tune their recovery to suit their individual needs.

Annie Simpson is a performance nutritionist at OTE Sports. For more information on OTE Sports and their range of sports nutrition and healthy snacks visit OTE Sports.


References

“Nutrition and Athletic Performance” (2016) American College of Sports Medicine

Research Source: Rawson, Miles & Larson-Meyer (2017) Dietary Supplements for Health, Adaption & Recovery in Athletes, International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism.

Research Source: Lee et al (2017) Biomarkers in Sports and Exercise: Tracking Health, Performance and Recovery in Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Riding the Spring Classics

Riding the Spring Classics

The arrival of daffodils means one thing in the cycling calendar – the Spring Classics. Steeped in cycling history, these prestigious one-day races are spectacular to watch but grueling to ride. An ‘all or nothing’ test, conquered only by the hardest of men and women, the Spring Classics are known for pitting riders against leg-pulverising climbs and teeth-chattering cobbles. Add in northern Europe’s worst conditions – driving rain and sleet, snow, streams of mud, walls of dust and some crazy distances (Milan-San-Remo is 291 km, or 185 miles) – and you’ll see why these races are notorious.

The Spring Classics can be roughly separated into two groups: the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, with the addition of two Italian races – Milan-San-Remo (which dates from 1907) and the relatively new Strade Bianche.

RIDING THE CLASSICS

Riding a Classic demands a superhuman effort based on stamina and top-end power. The pace is high for many hours and negotiating the short-sharp bergs, murs and perilous pavé requires the peloton to put in max effort, after max effort.

Most Spring Classics are World Tour races as well but they can often be far more entertaining than the back-to-back days of The Tour – there’s no tomorrow to make up for a bad day, and it’s common for single riders to outwit even the biggest and most organised teams.

Former British road race champion Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead) won The Tour of Flanders, in 2016. She says, “The demands of a Classic can be very different to a summer race or stage race – you’re battling the weather conditions and narrow roads, as well as other riders and teams. Tactically you have to be flexible and ready to respond fast because the race scenario can change in an instant. It only takes a change in wind direction or road surface to turn things on their head.”

The best Classics riders are the puncheurs, riders who excel on rolling terrain, love short, sharp climbs and have best bike handling skills – take Cancellera, Sagan and Merckx. To win you need experience, luck and great form, in equal measure. One mistake and you can wish the podium goodbye.

TRAINING FOR A CLASSIC

The Classics are seen as test of form. As the pros emerge from their winter hibernation they are generally in great shape. “Winning a Classic is so hard because you have to beat the best, at their best,” says Deignan.

She adds, “Because these races present a unique challenge, the training is very specific. Most of the race winning moves come from an attack, or a short climb, sometimes on cobbles”.

To prepare for these races requires plenty of time spent doing short, intense efforts (of one to five minutes) and working around your threshold. Heart rate and max power are less of a consideration because the purpose of classics training is to push yourself to the limit – they are the ultimate test of strength, power and mental toughness.

WHY RIDERS LOVE, OR LOATHE THEM

 “Riding a spring classic is great fun. The racing is always highly pressure and aggressive. I thrive during tough conditions and the spring classics certainly offer that. There are always large enthusiastic crowds, we sometimes miss that in races later in the season,” says Deignan.

“My natural talents are in riding repeated short, intense efforts and being able to recover quickly between them. I love the back to back short climbs in classics. The longer mountain type climbs are less suited to me as they rely on sustained power without recovery.

 “My favourite spring classic was the Tour of Flanders in 2016. Every day in training prior to winning, I had dreamt about doing it. The win was especially sweet because I won in the rainbow jersey. Both results felt like pipe dreams at the start of my career. I only won by a couple of centimetres and I was actually having ‘bad’ day but it was sheer will and determination that got me over the line first.”


Pavé: French word for cobblestones. The cobbled sections of  races such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders are infamous.

Berg: Belgian word for ‘a climb’. The names of the hill used in Belgian classics almost always end in ‘berg e.g. the Koppenberg, the Paterberg

Mur: Dutch word for wall. These are short and very steep climbs such as the Mur de Huy – the definitive climb of La Flèche Wallonne.

The Benefits Of Training With A Plan

The Benefits Of Training With A Plan

We recently highlighted our top 10 cycling challenges for 2018 to inspire you for the New Year. If you’ve already signed up for an event this year, you may be wondering where to start with your training. Here, we explain how using a training plan will help you achieve your goals:

  • The benefits of following a training plan

  • When and how to start your training

  • How to get the most out of your training plan

The benefits of following a training plan

Whether you’re a beginner cyclist who has just signed up for your first sportive, or you’re a seasoned cyclist looking to improve, a training plan can bring many benefits including:

  1. Performance improvements: The number one reason most people follow a training plan is to improve their performance. Whilst you may be a regular rider or commuter, a sportive or challenge requires a new level of effort and endurance which a training plan can develop.
  2. Structure and consistency: In a world where work, family and other commitments are eating away at your training time, a training plan offers structure and easy to follow sessions that slot seamlessly into your daily routine.
  3. Take the stress out of training: Having to think about what you’re doing each time you train and how it fits into your goal of completing a sportive can be stressful and time consuming. Following a training plan takes the stress away and saves precious time.

When to start training

The best time to start training will depend on your goals. If you are training for an event on a  specific date, work backwards to figure out when you should take up a training plan.

Whilst summer events may seem far away, winter and the off season provide an opportunity to create a solid foundation which you can build upon as your event moves closer. Our new 12 week base training plan follows a polarised training model, where 80% of training is low intensity and 20% is high intensity. This has been proven to be an effective training method for endurance events.

As you move closer to your goal, you should start thinking about event-specific training. A 12 week training plan will help you build the strength, threshold and endurance required to get through the challenge. We’ve launched four new 12 week training plans to help you get to the start line of your event in the best possible shape, click the links below to find out more and download the plans or visit ‘Plans’ on the Wattbike Hub to ride the sessions in real time:

50 MILE SPORTIVE PLAN

100 MILE SPORTIVE PLAN

HAUTE ROUTE 3-DAY EVENT PLAN

HAUTE ROUTE 7-DAY EVENT PLAN

Top tips to get the most out of your training plan 

  1. Don’t play catch up. If work or life takes over one week, don’t try and squeeze in missed sessions as you risk fatigue and injury. If you miss more than three sessions in a week, go back and start the week again.

  2. Listen to your body. If you are feeling particularly tired or sore, take some time out before getting back into the plan.

  3. Eat a balanced diet. Roughly 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 15% fats, plus a good mix of fruit and vegetables for their vitamins and minerals.

  4. Stay hydrated. Dehydration reduces performance and prevents recovery.  Aim for two litres of water per day, plus 600-800ml extra for every hour of exercise.

How To Set Achievable Cycling Goals For The New Year

How To Set Achievable Cycling Goals For The New Year

Whilst the thought of New Year’s resolutions and goal setting may sound overrated, defining what you want to achieve is an extremely powerful process that will help you stay motivated and grow as an athlete.

Goals will help you work harder, be more focused, and overcome setbacks. If you’re still not convinced that you need to set goals for the New Year, here we explain the importance of goal setting and how to create achievable goals:

Why set goals?

  1. Goals provide focus  – with family, work and technology vying for our attention, it’s sometimes challenging to know where to focus your time and resources. Goal-setting will help you to focus your attention on your priorities.

  2. Goals help you maintain motivation – goals encourage you to keep going. They enable you to see the bigger picture and give you motivation to take the steps to get there.

  3. Goals make you accountable – goals help you move from thought to action. Rather than talking about signing up for that sportive, it’s better to make the sportive concrete which means you’ll have to put together a training plan to ensure you get there.

  4. Goals help you become a better cyclist – they are designed to take you out of your comfort zone, push the boundaries of what you thought you could achieve.

  5. Goals give you clarity – creating and manifesting small goals can help you achieve a much larger life vision; for example, completing a local sportive could contribute to your vision of one day completing an Olympic distance triathlon or a multi-stage ride in the Alps.

How to set achievable goals 

Now that you know the importance of setting goals, it’s time to commit and set yourself a goal for 2018. One popular method of goal-setting is ensuring every goal you set is SMART. The example below sets out how to create SMART goals:

Anthony, a keen cyclist who currently rides 25 miles 2-3 times per week has set the following goal “I want to ride 100 miles.”

Let’s check how Anthony’s goal measures up against the SMART scale:

S – is it specific? No, it doesn’t mention when, where or how he is planning to ride 100 miles.

M – is it measurable? Yes, it states 100 miles which is measurable and proof of whether he achieved the goal or not.

A – is it agreed? Anthony has agreed to this goal, but has he gained buy-in from other people related to his goal? This might include his coach, family, spouse or social group. Telling people about your goals will help you stick to them.

R – is it realistic? Given that Anthony is already a regular cyclist, this goal seems achievable with hard work. Whether a goal is realistic for you will depend on your starting point and how fit you are.

T – is it time appropriate? Anthony has not created a timely goal as he hasn’t stated when he’s likely to ride his 100 miles. Setting a specific timeframe to achieve your goal is key. Use it as an anchor to track back and assess the time you’ll have to prepare.

We’ve found that Anthony’s original goal falls short on a few areas, so let’s recreate it using the SMART method:

“I want to ride 100 miles in under 6 hours at the Great Notts Bike Ride on 26th June 2018.”

Using the SMART method has transformed Anthony’s goal into one which holds him accountable, and motivates him to put steps in place to achieve it.

Take the first steps to achieving your goal with one of our dedicated training plans.

wattbike for teaching

Wattbike for teaching – School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University.

Across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, Nottingham Trent University has been using Wattbikes for

teaching and research for several years.

Staff and students conducting research in physiology are finding the Wattbike invaluable. The Wattbike is a firm

favourite with final year students’ research into how different interventions can affect performance using its in-built

protocols to undertake a range of tests including ramp tests, British Cycling approved cycling tests and pedalling

technique analysis.

Nottingham Trent University also offer a vocational course on Gym Instruction and Personal Training which develops

the next generation of sports professionals for the rapidly evolving health and fitness industry. The Wattbike is part

of a step-change which includes an increased use of technology in training and fitness.

Dr Ruth Hobson, Senior Lecturer at NTU said: “We use the Wattbike for teaching with our students as it gives them

practical experience with equipment commonly found in gyms and clubs.” As the Wattbike footprint increases

across the UK health and fitness industry, NTU students are gaining valuable skills when it comes to investing

in their future.

“The accuracy and feedback from the Wattbike allows students to undertake

high-quality research such as understanding the physiological responses to exercise of

varying intensities.”

 

3 Ways To Become A Better Climber

3 Ways To Become A Better Climber

With the first mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia just a few days away many cyclists will be inspired by the pro’s to take on a mountain pass or two. If you’re one of them, and you’re adding a mountain climb to your itinerary this summer, read our 3 ways to become a better climber before you head out.

1. Improve your power to weight ratio

A perfect place to start when trying to improve your climbing is to calculate and optimise your power to weight ratio. If you’re heavier than your fellow climbing companions, you’ll need to produce more power than them to tackle the hill at the same pace.

There are two main ways to improve your power to weight ratio. Firstly, think about your body weight – are you carrying a few extra pounds? If so, these could be hampering your efforts when climbing. Aim for a healthy balanced diet and consider the Wattbike weight management plan to help you get off to the best possible start.

Secondly, if you’re at optimum bodyweight, consider implementing some power specific training sessions to improve your power.

2. Practice makes progress

A number of climbs in the Giro reach over 2000ft. If you’re taking on a climb similar to the pro’s you’ll need to get in plenty of practice beforehand to ensure you are up to the challenge. Practising before the big day will help you develop three of the key skills needed to successfully tackle the mountains:

–       Pacing – for long climbs it’s important to select the right pace to ensure you don’t blow up half way up the hill after pushing yourself too hard. Practice your pacing during training on varying levels of hills, you can use cadence, heart rate or power training zones to help guide you to a sustainable pace.

–       Gearing – the climbs of the pro tours are long, probably much longer than anything you’ve attempted before so you’ll need to practice your gear selection. Opt for lower gears than you think you’ll need and practice on the longest and hardest hills in your area – you may find you need to add a different chainset or rear cassette for a wider range of gears.

–       Mental preparation – climbs like those in the Giro are tough and you’ll need to get into a good headspace to tackle them effectively. Mimicking the effort required for a long, slow, gruelling climb indoors can help you prepare mentally, as well as physically, for the challenge ahead.

Advice for replicating climbs on a Wattbike

Unless you live near a mountain range, it’s unlikely that you’ll train on climbs similar to the ones faced in the Giro. To replicate the effort needed to conquer your climbs, try training indoors on a Wattbike.

Everybody climbs hills differently and there are many factors which affect how quickly you will reach the top. Ride style, body weight, the gradient and length of the hill and the weather all play a part.

Rather than trying to imitate all these factors on the Wattbike by simply cranking up the resistance and going for it, think about the length and type of hills you’ll be facing, then replicate a power output, cadence and smooth technique that you can maintain within your personal training zones to tackle them.

This is particularly key on shallower gradients and longer climbs, where that gradient can continue for several kilometres.

3. Think about technique

An age old debate when it comes to climbing is should you climb seated, or standing? We are big advocates of staying seated when it comes to climbs for three main reasons:

–       Staying seated is more aerodynamic. When seated, the frontal drag area is smaller than if you were standing, that essentially means you require less power to move your mass (i.e. body and bike) forwards.

–       Staying seated ensures an effective pedal stroke. Standing when you climb results in pushing power at the front of the pedal stroke, which has a negative impact on the smoothness of your pedalling technique.

–       Staying seated reduces peaks and troughs in your heart rate. For most riders, it’s more effective to choose an appropriate gear and sit in the saddle tapping out a good rhythm with a smooth and balanced pedal technique as opposed to jumping out of the saddle and seeing your heart rate skyrocket (and having to slow again for a period of recovery).