Ronan McLaughlin’s Nutritional Blog (Pre-Race)
Written by Kinetica fuelled, An Post CRC cyclist Ronan McLaughlin.
The An Post Ras has rolled around for another year and another cracking eight days of racing is on the cards. I am highly motivated for the Ras this year after going close to getting a stage win last year and also as part of the An Post Chain Reaction Cycles Sean Kelly Team this is our home race and one of the few opportunities we get to race on Irish soil throughout the season.
Throughout the week I will be writing a mini-blog on how I tackle a stage race like this from the nutritional side. There are countless articles and expert advice available on how to train the body to a level that makes it possible to race “full gas” for eight days, but from what I could find there are not so many articles that actually cover the nutritional needs of a rider through pre, interim and post-race. So, in conjunction with our team nutritional partner Kinetica, I decided to give an insight into how I ensure I fuel myself as best I can! I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, but over the years I have managed to find a system that suits my needs.
This article will cover how I prepare pre-race. As this is an eight day stage race, I will also look at how I prepare in the week before the event. Going into a stage race of this length you need to be quite fresh physically and this means tapering off your training quite a lot in the days leading up to the start. Despite the substantial cut back in training hours and energy expenditure, I find my appetite doesn’t decrease at all. This makes for a difficult and sometimes torturous balancing act. It’s quite important not to eat too much for the obvious reason; weight gain, but also over eating can leave some riders very “blocked” on the first day of the race and very often the race can ride away on the first stage, so you want to be ready to race from the gun.
Basically, in the six days before the race I had a travel day and then two proper training days before three days of full on rest. My tactic was simple, in theory; fuel properly at breakfast for the upcoming session, ensure complete recovery from each session with both a Kinetica 100% Recovery shake and shortly after a proper lunch containing high glycaemic carbohydrates (white rice), lean proteins (chicken) and plenty of greens to fill me up. For my main evening meal I tried to keep the carbohydrate intake to a minimum and strictly only low GI, I filled up on “fattier” meats such as, beef or salmon and again plenty of greens or salad. Most nights I had another protein hit before bed, usually the Kinetica ProRelease or in the case of my day off, some nut butter on Ryvita.
As this is one of my major goals for the season I have a few other tricks/marginal gains that I avail of to gain that extra one or two per cent in performance. These include beta-alanine, concentrated beetroot juice and sodium phosphate loading.
The morning of a race I have a simple protocol that I have stuck to for years now. My preferred breakfast is a healthy (i.e. BIG) serving of porridge, filled with a chopped apple, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and a scoop of Kinetica vanilla whey. Then I love nothing more than a nice slice of bread with some nut butter and a couple of cups of tar like coffee. This is a good slow release carb (except the apple, which I just like) breakfast, which is exactly what you want before a race. Cyclists will generally eat three hours or more before a race so the slow release nature of this meal staves off the cravings. The problem with eating close to a race is the food you consume will cause a blood sugar spike and the drop off after this could leave you feeling weak and under par on the start, so I try not to eat anything between breakfast and when I take to the start line when I will usually have an energy bar just before the off. About one hour before the start, I will take some magnesium to fend off cramps.
Ronan McLaughlin will be writing a mini-blog each day while the An Post Ras continues…