Essential Sports Nutrition


The windy long ride

My week of coaching, nutrition consults, writing articles and training caught up to me and on Friday, I was a bit more tired than usual. I adjusted my Friday workouts from 3 (swim, bike/run and strength) down to one so that the only thing I did was an EZ 60-minute spin on the trainer in the morning to loosen out my legs. Knowing that Saturday was another long workout for us (4.5 hour ride + run off the bike and then a PM run) but the predicted weather was cold in the morning, Karel and I decided to swim first and then ride in the late morning - pretty much we aborted our scheduled training for plan B. After 12 years of endurance triathlon training, I've learned not to get too fixated to what's on the schedule as sometimes plans need to change. I've also come to appreciate a change in weekend workouts as this prevents me from feeling burnt-out from putting my body through the same workouts weekend after weekend. 

Around 9am (when the Furman pool opened), we started our swim. While the swim was a little intense (MS was 15 x 100's, total 3300 yards), I left the pool feeling excited to ride. After another snack, it was time to head out for our ride around 11:30am.

Sadly, we didn't consider the wind that came through after the cold left us in the late morning/afternoon. Although the temperature was nice for an outdoor ride, the wind was not-so-nice. For the first 2:20 hours of ride, navigating up and down lots of climbs as we headed into North Carolina to Flat Rock Village Bakery, we battled some intense head winds. It was mentally and physically exhausting. There was little talking between me and Karel throughout this ride as it was one of those workouts where you try to quiet all the negative thoughts in your mind and just embrace the tough conditions. As if our terrain is not hard enough, I was finding myself frustrated by the wind, the bumps on the road and Karel's pace. So many times I just wanted to give up but I kept making deals with myself to just go a little further and a little further. As someone who doesn't enjoy riding in the wind, this was a great opportunity for me to embrace my fears and work on my weakness.

Once we arrived to the bakery for our quick stop, I was relieved that we would get some tailwind for the ride home. After a few bites of our bakery treats (pecan walnut bar for me and chocolate coconut macaroon for Karel), it was time to head back for our ride home.


So much for wishful thinking of tailwind. While we were getting a little push, the wind was to the side and it was fierce. Descending quickly down climbs, especially ones where the road twist and turns, was uncomfortable for me but I stayed calm and embraced our tough training conditions. Making sure to stay fueled/hydrated with my sport drink was critical to keep my brain sharp to better manage the conditions and our terrain, along with supplying carbs to my working muscles and to prevent a drop in blood sugar.

As the ride continued, I found myself more mentally than physically exhausted from our ride. The gusts of wind at my side had me riding very cautious. Even though our roads are fairly quiet from cars, I was still hesitant to take more risks in the wind as I wanted to get home in one piece. Normally, I love this route (I suggested this route to Karel before we left our house for our ride) but on Saturday, not so much. But there's always something to learn from training to apply to race day and my lesson learned was to stay in the moment and self-manage -  mentally and physically. This ride also gave me a lot of opportunities to practice my bike handling skills.

By the time that we got a few miles away from home, I was relieved to have this ride (almost) behind me. After returning home more exhausted than normal, we decided because of the windy ride and morning swim that we would not run off the bike and just call it a day - which was fine by me. It was nearing 4:30pm and I was ready to eat, cuddle with Campy, answer a few emails and rest my tired body. Ten hours of sleep did the trick and on Sunday morning, I felt much more rested for my morning workouts (1:40 hr trainer ride with high cadence intervals followed by a 45 minute treadmill run).

Many times, we train in a controlled, comfortable environment which brings confidence for race day but rarely is race day comfortable and controlled. While we should never put our health at jeopardy, sometimes it's ok to step outside of the comfort zone and embrace what you are not good at. For me, it's the wind. I'd like to think/hope that one day I will master riding in the wind and get excited for windy conditions on race day (and in training) but for now, I will continue to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and (try to) make friends with the wind.