My focus for this week is on the final preparation for race day. According to the latest race report by the organisers (Rocky Trail), I should expect cooler weather with possible showers, favourable conditions for a long race to minimise the risk of dehydration and heat stroke. So how am I feeling? Pumped! I'm pleased with the progress made to date fitness wise, my knee is feeling strong again, and mentally I'm going into the race with a clear plan, and lots of motivation to give it my best. More importantly, I'm looking forward to having lots of fun on what is a fantastic course. I'll also be riding my new rig, a Specialized Epic S-Works 2018, and oh man what a bike this is! I've been riding S-Works for a few years now and I can honestly say this edition is the best yet. This is primarily due to a complete redesign of the frame and Brain suspension system. The overall riding quality has improved, and as far as I can tell, with no compromise to the overall efficiency of the bike when climbing. I took the new bike in for an initial service last weekend so had to ride my old bike (as seen in the picture) and oh man did it feel harsh, so the added comfort of the new design is definitely going to help with the final half of the race e.g. fatigue reduction. Training wise, I would have preferred to have squeezed in at least another 2 or 3 long rides as part of my prep. Family commitments and the summer heatwaves meant I had to alter my plans, so hopefully this ultimately won't have too much of a negative impact on race day. The plan for this week (tapering) is to keep the legs turning (low intensity riding) and to continue with my regular strength training routine (albeit with lighter weights), emphasising the mobility and stretching elements to maximise recovery. Diet wise, probably eating a little more than I should but overall the keto effects have been very effective, and something that I will stick with as it suits my lifestyle. I'm keeping a steady 71.5kg, looking lean, and feeling energised throughout the day. Again, my place for race day is to stick with the hard boiled eggs, handful of almonds, and electrolyte (sugar free) salt tablets and pure water. In summary, there isn't anything I can complain about, so no excuses :) Wrapping up this entry, my goals for the race are:
1. Finish the 7hrs race pain free.
2. No sugar to fuel the ride.
3. Maintain a consistent lap time throughout the course of the race.
In terms of strategy:
1. Keep a steady pace, and avoid unecessary bursts of energy expenditure e.g. it's a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Minimise risks to avoid crashing, mechanicals, and bonking out.
3. Get a good starting position to avoid bottlenecks. I suspect the tail end of the first third will be suffice.
Final position is somewhat irrelevant at this point due to the number of changes I've made. If things go well i.e. top 15% finish then I will consider focussing more on pace for race #2. Until the next post.
I'm a huge coffee freak like many of you. I absolutely love the stuff and it's a crucial part of my daily morning ritual. At one point I was consuming between 8-10 standard shots, which was really messing up my ability to sleep properly. Ironically I was drinking huge amounts due to lack of sleep. A cycle worth avoiding! I've since reduced my habit to no more than two cups (double-shot) per day which for me is the perfect balance between the enjoyment/benefit without the negative side effects. Others can get away with drinking much more, and I'm sure there are a few factors at play here that determine sensitivity to caffeine e.g. size, activity, sweating, hydration etc. My routine consists of one espresso in the morning pre-workout, followed by a bulletproof long black post-workout. I've cut out milk as part of the experimentation process for the sake of digestion in recent times, so I've had to find suitable alternatives to manage the latte void (my favourite style of coffee). The replacement? Bulletproof coffee and turmeric latte. The former is a clever name given to what is basically a long black with added fat. The latter, a delicious coconut/almond milk based latte type drink that is sweet in flavour, and a great substitute for milk and sugar without the negative side effects. The latte I do on weekends only, which also requires skipping the espresso to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine. The turmeric latte typically contains turmeric (duh!), coffee, almond and/or coconut milk, cinnamon, and honey. In small doses, there are lots of health benefits with each of these ingredients. The bulletproof I do religiously on a daily basis and is the only food I will consume during the intermittent fasting period. I use locally roasted beans (Lonsdale St Roasters - Canberra) using my own home grinder and espresso machine. Costa Rica and Colombia origin beans are my favourite due to the milder/sweet aftertaste. So what are the benefits? Personally, the morning bulletproof helps with two things, hunger cravings (due to intermittent fasting of approx. 10-11hrs) and mental focus. To be honest, I'm finding morning hunger cravings to be less of an issue, so the main driver behind the coffee now is the focus and the fun that comes with making your own coffee. Now, the fat content is beneficial for low carb/keto type diets. I'm currently experimenting with two sources of fat both of which are sourced from optimoz.com.au:
1. Ghee fat - https://www.optimoz.com.au/collections/ketogenic-diet/products/primal-collective-ghee-from-grass-fed-happy-cows
2. MCT oil- https://www.optimoz.com.au/collections/mct-oil/products/bulletproof-upgraded-mct-oil-960-ml-32-fl-oz
All of this fits in very nicely with my strategy for morning training session motivation, intermittent fasting, weight control, and sleep management. The added focus I've found is also of great benefit for work. Feel free to ask questions :)
A few people have been asking me about my lunch shakes, so here it is:
All of the above you can source from Woolworths except for the hemp protein which I buy from www.bulk nutrients.com.au. The inspiration for this came from the primal blueprint website. I took Mark's recipe and modified it to meet my daily nutritional needs.
Plus two 750ml water bottle refills with added electrolyte salt tablets. This was all that was needed to complete an 100km MTB training ride on Sunday. I felt the muscle fatigue kick in at around 65km but also felt that I had plenty left in the tank to complete the 100km. Best of all I had very little problems with lower back pains which is a first for me. Lower back pain is an issue I've had to manage for a very long time so making progress on this front is a huge deal for me. I suspect this has something to do with lower levels of inflammation due to the lower carb intake. Overall, things are tracking really well for the 3 Feb race endurance wise and I have one more weekend of solid long distance riding before my taper week. It's also worth noting that I've applied periodisation principles to my training preparation, hence my reference to the taper week. Periodisation is about applying common sense to training on the basis that we're not robots, and therefore can't maintain peak performance all year round because our bodies need rest to rebuild and grow. In practical terms, it requires prioritising your season and selecting the high priority races you want to be in top shape for and also accepting that you can only really reach peak performance once or twice a year. The annual training calendar is then designed around the priority races and sorted into phases. These are Base, Build, Peak, Taper and Race. Base is where you do your aerobic long distance training to help build endurance, providing a foundation to then do the hard stuff that occurs during the Build phase. Base is basically about quantity. Build is where you reduce the duration of training but increase the intensity to emphasise anaerobic effort e.g. short and hard intervals, hill climbs etc. Peak is one final smashing before Taper. Taper focusses on active recovery, and backing off to recover fully in preparation for the final phase, Race. Joe Friel has written extensively about this periodisation so I recommend looking him up if your interested. There aren't really any natural alternatives to avoid overtraining so periodisation is a must unless your prepared to mess around with banned chemical substances. That in itself is an entirely subject on its own well outside the scope of this post :) I also mentioned last week that I would talk more about my specific diet. I've been very time poor this week, too busy enjoying my birthday! :) I do however promise to post something up later this week. I'm also going to hold off on posting my glucose and ketone data up until I have at least a full months worth of data. I have 1 week already which is looking pretty good but insufficient to draw any useful conclusions. Alright! I'm off to bed. Until the next post......
We've had some pretty serious summer heat this week which has been interesting for sleep and hydration. I was able to smash through an 85km ride today in high thirty degree heat feeling reasonably good. The only major issue I had was sweating away most of the sunscreen after about 3hrs so the skin was starting to get pretty hot towards the final third of the 5.5hr ride. The UV levels here are insane! I'll be carrying a small tube of sunscreen from now on. The ride itself was fantastic, and despite the heat I was able to keep things at an aerobic pace to avoid blowing up or dehydrating. Best of all, it was completed without any sugar, just water (with some zero-sugar electrolyte salt tablets), a handful of almonds, and 4 boiled eggs. My weight this morning was back down to 70.4kg, which means I've dropped the extra fluids I was carrying from the Christmas naughty food. HRV readings are all positive, sleep is solid, and overall energy levels have been on the high side this week. All good signs that I'm tracking well for the 3 Feb race.
Some excitement this week with the arrival of my Precision Xtra blood glucose/ketone monitor which I ordered from the US through eBay. I did my research on these, and was looking for something that was affordable and accurate. It's simple to use so I highly recommend it if you're ok with pricking yourself to extract the blood drops :) Based on the first readings my blood glucose post exercise was at 70 mg/dL which is on the low side of the recommended healthy range but definitely safe, and pretty good considering it was straight after morning training sessions and the usual 12hrs of fasting that precede it. Now, what I'm more interested in is ketone levels. These are sitting at 0.4 mol/L, again within a healthy an optimum range for my current levels of activity. What really excites me about all of this is that:
1. My body has adapted to the keto diet, and is producing the ketones needed to sustain my training;
2. The steady weigh cut has been pretty easy to manage. I'm also at 13.4% body fat according to the Withings scale;
3. I'm not blowing up on the bike during long rides; and
4. I'm not relying (or craving) on sugar anymore to fuel rides e.g. gels and energy drinks.
I go back to work this week which means things will return to the regular routine. I'll post up diet details next week if I can figure out how to neatly publish these from MyFitnessPal.
Until the next post.
I'm a 36 year old male from Carwoola, New South Wales, a small rural area situated just outside of Canberra, Australia. I'll be using this blog to share my experiences with training, dieting, and other methods to optimise overall well being. The basic idea behind all of this is to have lots of fun with the learning and experimentation process. It's worth noting that what may work well for me may not work as well for others. I also don't think there are right or wrong answers, as things are constantly changing and evolving.