High Volume Fueling!

Coach Ben Greenfield , Training Tips Add comments

WF_RunnerYou’ll be pleased to hear that the official Wildflower triathlon training camps (this April 5-7) are just days from being announced! These camps are for both Olympic and Long Distance Wildflower triathletes, and in the meantime, you might as well start studying up on how to fuel your body during a multi-day training camp - where you may be exercising much more than usual and need more fuel.

So this two part article series will fill you in on everything you need to know to eat adequate calories without destroying your body.

Oh yeah, before we jump in – did you get your no-guesswork 18 Week Wildflower Triathlon Training Plan yet?

Of course, most triathletes can easily understand that based on training volume, some days will require more eating and some days less. But when it comes to a high-volume day or week, such as a triathlon camp, a century bike ride, or a big build week, it can be difficult to navigate the decision-making process of choosing which fuels to consume and how much, especially when compared to a “normal” training day. A paradox arises when a triathlete desires to eat healthy, but must somehow consume significantly more fuel.

The purpose of this series is to show you how to approach the increased fueling needs of a high-volume training block, and to establish clear guidelines for enhancing performance without sabotaging your power-to-weight ratio, immune system, and energy levels. To clarify, you can consider high-volume training to be a 3+ hour day or a 20+ hour week, which is significantly higher than the many age-groupers’ daily or weekly training volume. Alternatively, you can consider high-volume training to be 2-3 times the training amount you would normally perform during a typical day or week.

Before launching into an explanation of the difference between high-volume and normal fueling, it is important to explain the basic, underlying philosophy of proper normal fueling. You would be hard-pressed to find any nutritionist, registered dietitian, or triathlon coach that would disagree with the following paragraph, which sums up proper normal fueling: eat adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, consume moderate and complete protein sources, choose healthy fats, limit high intake of sugars and starches in favor of good carbohydrates, moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption and avoid foods high in preservatives and chemicals.

What Happens at a Triathlon Camp

But upon embarking on a high-volume training block as you may experience at a triathlon camp, many of these rules become nearly impossible to follow.

For example, if fruits and vegetables are eaten in sufficient quantity to satisfy daily caloric needs, then gastrointestinal distress can occur. If high intake of sugars and starches is avoided, this rules out many popular sports supplements used to fuel a multi-hour training session. Due to the time to prepare and digest, eating sufficient protein and fat quantities for proper repair and recovery is logistically difficult in the presence of 4-6 hours of daily training. Preservatives and chemicals tend to be prime ingredients in many packed or processed energy foods. Caffeine can be crucial for central nervous system stimulation of a tired body, especially towards the end of a day or week. Finally, alcohol in the form of an ice-cold beer or relaxing glass of red wine is often a welcome end to a hard day of training. 

On the other hand, indiscriminately shoveling fuel into the body raises it’s own set of issues. Avoidance of fruits and vegetables deprives the triathlete’s body of vital antioxidants, which are necessary to combat free radical formation from exercise.

Fermentation of excessive carbohydrates in the digestive tract can cause uncomfortable or embarrassing gas and bloating (read more about that by clicking here). High amounts of sugar can lead to a net acidic environment within the body, which can depress the immune system and increase risk of sickness during high-volume training. Many packaged proteins contain excessive colorings, sodium, preservatives and synthetic additives that can affect normal metabolism. Caffeine can mask fatigue and cause an athlete to push into overtraining, while alcohol can suppress testosterone, affect sleep quality, and result in a catabolic response that is not conducive to proper recovery.

With the need to eat more carbohydrates than usual, consume more recovery protein than usual, give the body more anti-oxidants than usual, eat more packaged foods than usual and stimulate the body to exercise more than usual, this paradox requires a clear set of guidelines that a triathlete can easily follow during a high-volume training day, high-volume training week or triathlon camp.

In the next article, you’re going to get the four crucial guidelines that you should follow during a high volume training day, week or camp. In the meantime, be sure to grab your Wildflower training plans.

1 response to “High Volume Fueling!”

  1. Rick Bates Says:
    I will be running my first tri at Wildflower. Looking forward to suggestions for fueling high-volume training.

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