The 2014 season is behind us and the forthcoming year of racing is approaching. As most people know, there isn’t much “off” during the off-season, and as we look to build on a successful end to last year’s campaign, plenty has been happening in the team camp.
Compared to recent years, we chose to take a fairly radically different approach to our Winter training and have had to adjust our nutritional intake accordingly. Clearly Winter training in Europe requires a slightly different fuelling strategy to the one spent in the sun and scorching temperatures of the Western Cape in South Africa.
What is easily forgotten when training in the cold, is to still remain hydrated. You may not feel like drinking, but to a degree your body will still be sweating and you will need to replace those lost fluids. During longer sessions, where carbohydrate intake is required, we’ve been consuming the TORQ Organic Natural energy. We have opted to use this because being unflavoured it tastes very similar to water, which we like when out training, it is refreshing and good for a mouth swill. Also because, unlike TORQ’s flavoured counterparts, it just contains maltodextrin (as opposed to a maltodextrin:fructose blend, more below), which has a carbohydrate ceiling absorption rate of 60g per hour. To date, none of our sessions in the cold have been performed at very high intensities or for extended periods, so consuming 60g of carbohydrate an hour is sufficient to maintain our performance throughout the session.
However, compared to previous Winters in warm Stellenbosch, and with more intense training performed in warmer temperatures closer to the season, our hydration strategy differs. As the temperatures increase, we will move more towards TORQ’s flavoured energy, our favourite being Natural Orange. Unlike the Natural Organic unflavoured drink, the flavoured Energy contains electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium being the most common), which are highly effective at keeping the body hydrated when perspiration rates are high. Indeed, the TORQ Energy has a full spectrum of 5 electrolyte salts, compared to the usual sports energy drinks, which invariably contain only 2, or occasionally 3 electrolyte salts. Therefore, through using TORQ, the body’s hydration system is readily able to absorb the given salts and is not hindered, thus the rider is not compentsating for the lack of hydration. For it is little known or appreciated that for every 1% of one’s own body weight that is lost through perspiration, one’s performance will drop off at a rate of 5%. Once dehydration has set in, there will be no returning to the benefits of a hydrated training session and it will invariably not be possible to easily return to a state of hydrational equilibrium. We therefore plan ahead and see what is in store weather wise. We also ensure we start our training session or competition hydrated and when the temperatures are cooler and the perspiration rates are lower, we lean more towards fuelling with the TORQ bars and gels.
A 500Ml bottle of TORQ Energy (when mixed at 6%) contains 30g of carbohydrate, which is the same carbohydrate content as a TORQ bar or a TORQ gel, so to incorporate TORQ’s Fuelling system, so long as you do not go over the 2 – 3 TORQ units (a TORQ gel, TORQ bar or 500Ml bottle of TORQ drink per hour), you will ensure a happy medium and avoid stomach complications through trying to dygest too much carbohydrate. TORQ recomends that smaller athletes or those new to sport initially start out with utilising 2 TORQ units an hour (1 unit every half an hour) and then look towards gradually increasing the carbohydrate intake from 60g – 90g per hour with time.
The flavoured TORQ Energy drink also contains additional carbohydrate in the form of fructose, so balanced with the maltodextrin, it allows for a higher absorption rate per hour, (90g compared with 60g). TORQ chose to use fructose and maltodextrin (as opposed to glucose and maltodextrin) as both of the carbohydrates can simultaneously be absorbed. Where in the instance of products that utilise glucose and maltodextrin the carbohydrates compete for absorption and therefore the dygestive rate is hindered and therefore slower. The fact that the carbohydrate is so quickly and efficiently absorbed means that there is less chance of stomach problems, and therefore the drinks can be relied upon to provide greater performance benefits during traing (especially higher intensity) or competition.
When the temperatures are cooler and perspiration rates are lower, as a rule (to avoid the unnecessary need to regularly go to the loo), you will not be drinking as much. In this situation, some riders look to add an additional scoop of TORQ Energy powder to their TORQ bottle, so as to make up a drink with a strength of 9%. Thus it is possible to obtain a greater concentration of carbohydrate with less water. However, now the TORQ fuelling system has arrived, it is very simple to accurately calculate the carbohydrate v water ratio & in warmer weather, when the perspiration rates are higher, one can always still apply the same 2 – 3 TORQ units per hour and lean more towards the TORQ drinks. In extreme heat and when the perspitration rates are very high, the same 2 – 3 TORQ units rule will still apply, but in this instance one should souly use the TORQ drinks and also consume additional water if it is required.
Not to be over looked in our training is the recovery process. This is the time where our bodies are adapting to the work load and through progressively looking at/ building upon our times and distances, we help ourselves to beccome stronger and faster. In my opinion, an athlete without recovery is either an over trained athlete or a plateaued athlete. As hard as I often find it to put my feet up and leave the bike inside, or the dumbbells on the rack, once you have a solid recovery plan to complement your exercise plan you’re on to a winner. At the moment (before the race season gets under way) the first stage of our recovery strategy starts as soon as we walk in the door, in those magic fifteen minutes (when the body is able to rapidly convert carbohydrate to replace depleted glycogen stores), we use TORQ Recovery – which contains a 3:1 carbohydrate to whey protein blend. Whey protein is an extremely fast absorbing protein, allowing for rapid muscle repair, due to the delivery of necessary amino acids. My personal favourite is the Strawberries & Cream, but, quite frankly you can’t go wrong with any, they taste that good!
There are several great things about the TORQ Recovery drink. Firstly it is a drink & so it can be readily dygested as opposed to trying to dygest a solid (such as a recovery bar), which takes too long and certainly beyond the 15 minute window. Secondly the TORQ Recovery drinks (which are based on body weight) are quite filling and so help to prevent the need to eat “anything and everything” as soon as you finish your session or race, as you are just so hungry. Thirdly, there is no fat within the TORQ Recovery drinks, where many similar products are so much higher in fat (to supposidly possibly improve their flavour), that they can not be dygested within the 15 minute window either. These drinks offer little actual recovery in comparison and could therefore be considered the same as an expensive milk shake. The other great benefit to using the TORQ recovery is the fact that it contains the raw ingredients of both TORQ Ribose & Glutemein. The Ribose quickly sets to work on repairing the damaged muscle cells and the Glutemein is particularly beneficial for boosting the imune system, therefore preventing unwanted colds and illness. So in our minds, using the Recovery Drink (especially at this time of year) is key to promoting and achieving a successful base training. Without a good foundation or level of base training the season ahead may well be jeopardised?
Stay tuned, for soon to follow will be a guide to our in-race fuelling strategy.