Jackson Long is our trusty summer intern here at The Feed. He's also an elite road racer for the Horizon Organic/Einstein Bros Bagels Cycling Team. He's also a nutrition science major at the University of Colorado - Boulder.
So in addition to doing his intern duties, he's also sharing with us his experience racing, and testing out Feed Nutrition.
Here is his experience from this past weekend racing U-23 Elite Nationals.
Last week I raced in the U23 National Championships in Madison, WI. Racing at this level and caliber of field is always a huge honor, and it’s a great feeling to be competing in the National Championships. I was primarily looking forward to the road race on Thursday, as the course was a great fit for me, 6 laps of a pretty hilly course with a punishing 2km climb to the finish. Our race, 140km, was the first race of the day at 7am! The venue was about 30 min from my hotel, so this made for a pretty tricky situation when it comes to pre-race nutrition.
Racing for over 3 hours with the country’s fastest domestic pros and amateurs will definitely require a significant amount of fuel. With the race being so early, I had to make sure I woke up early enough to put down a meal about 3 hours prior, which gives enough time to digest and absorb the nutrients, and it’s not a good feeling to be heavy and full when starting a hard effort. Fueling and nutrition is a constant focus so I definitely came into the day well nourished and properly hydrated. The night before the race I was sure to focus my dinner on a big portion of easily digestible, complex carbohydrates to get the glycogen stores well filled, and the morning of the race had a more easy meal
with simple carbohydrates (rice), paired with a little fat and protein (almond butter)
. This ensures the body is fully fueled up to put out the efforts and suffering that was to ensue in next few hours. Hydration is hugely important as well, especially since it is now summer and pretty warm and humid here in WI. Making sure to drink a lot of water in the morning and before the race, along with some electrolytes
and adding some salt to my meals helps to retain a bit of water for the race.
On a day like this, where it is a very intense race with lots of transitions, climbs, and attacks, I prefer to have things in my pocket that are easy to eat and easy to digest. The main sources of fuel have already been eaten, but glycogen is quickly depleted so it must be fed throughout the day. I bring along some chews and gels, always followed with fluid. Putting these foods down is quick, and allows the GI tract to focus on the race.
The race went pretty well, I was with the main group going into the final climb, finished 32nd after the group shattered with a small group battling for the win. The field was nearly 150 guys, so I was happy with my effort.
After the race finished, my immediate thought and focus was recovery
, especially since I was racing the time trial the next morning. I drank a bottle of water and then a recovery drink to get the most efficient path to the muscles and glycogen stores. I followed up with some whole foods like rice, bananas, and an almond butter and honey sandwich. A lot of racers tend to put off putting food and water in their bodies right after the race, and I think it is SO important, since the muscles are screaming for nourishment and the immune system is compromised. A proper cool down to spin the legs out is also key to recovering for the next day.