Do you ever get confused about the best way to warm up before a ride and how to cool down when you’re finished? Or, what you should eat on a long ride and when? Or, when you should use electrolyte drinks and when you should use water? In part 2 of this interview, world class duathlete Diane Stibbard answers these questions and more:
Q: How about the hilly terrain, is that a substitute for interval training? I guess that depends on the goal.
DS: Not necessarily, I mean if someone is doing lactic threshold intervals then they are probably training for something goal-oriented. Or, they might just be training for a very hilly 100 km-a-day tour but I wouldn’t say necessarily that riding through hilly terrain is a substitute. It helps your body to develop the ability to ride hills and strengthens your legs and gives you a little bit more power but it’s not necessarily a substitute. If you really want to work on lactate threshold you have to be doing high-level-intensity interval training, and or hill repeats at a pretty high intensity. If you’re going to be riding hilly terrain on a tour, or a hilly race, then you definitely need to stimulate your body to ride hills but it won’t give you the full benefits of proper structured lactate threshold intervals.
Hills are a good way to develop strength and power in the legs but they don’t address the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular training is addressed when you do your long mileage, your long, steady-state ride. Hill repeats and sprints will help to develop the higher-end levels of your aerobic fitness but not cardiovascular fitness, not your steady state aerobic system.
Q: Nutritional guidelines . . . I’ve heard different things about hydrating during exercise. I read recently that people are over-hydrating. And in marathons people are dying because of it.
DS: Yes they are. It’s a huge problem. At first people weren’t drinking enough, so there was a big push to hydrate, which is good, but people have now gone to the other extreme and drink too much. And instead of drinking some kind of electrolyte replacement fluid they’re drinking water which just eliminates all the salts in their system. If you’re in a race and sweating and maybe using the bathroom along the way, you end up sweating all the salts out of your body and that’s pretty serious. It drops the electrolyte level in your body. Hydrating is very important.
Generally the rule of thumb with hydration is if you’re just doing an hour recreational ride you’re okay just to take a bottle of water, but as soon as you start getting into the one and a half hours plus, you need to be supplementing with some kind of electrolyte sports drink. There are a number of products on the market. Which one you use is very individual.
Q: Do you have a preference?
DS: I use eLoad, a local Toronto-based company makes it. It has the right balance of sodium, potassium, and salts and it has carbohydrates in it. If I’m doing a post-race recovery ride I just use water, but for every other ride I use an electrolyte drink. People cycling 100 km a day on tours definitely need some kind of sports drink with electrolytes in it, not just water.
When you’re cycling for ninety minutes and beyond, you also need to be supplementing with food. You can do that with energy bars, gels, or bananas. I find energy bars work for me. Some people like gels. The good thing about gels and energy bars is they have a little bit of protein in them as well as carbohydrates and some fat.
For endurance rides, 100km plus, it’s a must to be supplementing with food from the ninety minute mark. And, again, how you do that is individual. There’s some trial and error involved. Never go into an event, or a race, without first trying out a new product. You should always figure out what your body can handle and what you can actually take well before the event. I remember a few years ago when I was training for a marathon, gels had just started to become popular. And I said, “Oh yeah, I’m going to take these gels on my three hour run today”. And I hadn’t used them before. I thought I’d be fine. And I got out there and I couldn’t swallow them. They were making me gag! (laughing) So I was glad I did that before the race.
There are certain gels that I find okay now and can tolerate but it’s trial and error and it’s very individual. But definitely from the ninety minute mark on, you need to be supplementing with some kind of food, and hydrating with an electrolyte drink if you’re riding more than an hour.
Q: For cycling snacks I like taking bread and maybe some smoked turkey and cream cheese and that works well for me.
DS: Yes, again the whole key is finding what works for the individual. For me it’s just easier to have bars in a wrapper. I can open them and eat them as I’m riding. I don’t stop when I ride, so I try to make everything as easy and accessible as possible. Just be careful not to have anything too heavy, because then you’re going to be diverting the blood away from the working muscles to digesting food.
Your cycling snack should be mostly carbohydrates and a little bit of protein. Proteins are way more important post ride. Within the first fifteen minutes of finishing a ride you should have a good combination of something with proteins and carbohydrates. There are many recovery drinks on the market, or you can have a shake, or a bagel with peanut butter, or turkey, or chicken. I use a recovery drink called Endurox. It has the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for recovery and I drink it within the first fifteen minutes of finishing a ride while I’m stretching. Then an hour from then, you take in the same amount of proteins and carbohydrates again. This builds back the glycogen in the muscle, so the next day when you ride the muscle, glycogen is built up and you’ve got the energy to ride again.