When it comes to riding multi-day stage races like the iconic Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek presented by Biogen, which takes place from 3-6 February 2022, optimal recovery starts on the bike.
As such, it is vital that riders learn how to start refuelling for the next day’s stage before they get to the finish line.
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Eat early and often
This primarily means eating and drinking early and often to ensure that riders don’t fall into a severe energy deficit during an individual stage.
The aim is to ingest around 60-90g of carbs per hour, based on factors such as effort, digestibility, palatability and tolerance.
Clock feeding is generally advantageous during ultra-endurance events as riders know exactly when and how much to consume to ensure they perform at their best.
On-the-bike supplements like Biogen Cytogen Race Mix, Real Food Energy Gels and Energy Oats and Nougat bars provide immediate energy to fuel a rider’s daily efforts, and also help to top up depleted glycogen stores.
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Limit muscle damage
Adding a protein or amino acid source to the mix, like Biogen Amino Power+ can help to limit muscle damage and kickstarts the muscle repair process sooner.
And numerous studies show that a carbohydrate-protein drink like Biogen Recovergen, which contains whey protein hydrolysate and offers a 4:1 carb:protein ratio, can positively impact recovery by limiting the degree of muscle damage that occurs during every stage while also mediating the inflammatory response and reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
These benefits have a positive effect on performance during subsequent stages.
Basically, when taken during physical exertion, a carb-protein supplement protects muscle tissue and ensures that the recovery process starts early while athletes are still working hard and expending energy.
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Wayne ‘Tails’ Taylor, Director of Athletic Performance and a strength and conditioning coach at the Biogen-backed WT Human Performance in Johannesburg, says that many riders neglect proper recovery.
“That’s when cumulative fatigue becomes a major issue. Every athlete should work hard to get back to as close to 100% as possible between stages because this is how you reduce injury risk and perform at your best.”
Wayne likes his athletes to flush out exercise metabolites after every ride with 8-10 minutes of active recovery, which will coincide with rehydration and a snack or supplement to aid muscle repair.
“Nutritional variety is key and food must always come first. I advise clients to eat something within the first hour following a ride. A carb-protein supplement like Biogen Recovergen is ideal because it restores depleted glycogen stores and kickstarts the muscle repair process. A whole-food meal should follow soon after,” says Wayne.
Wayne adds that it is also important to kick off your efforts to rehydrate early on. “Biogen Electrolyte Plus tabs are ideal for regular use, which I would include daily.”
Riders should include electrolytes in their on-bike hydration and fuelling plan, and consume additional electrolytes immediately after each stage to replace what riding takes out.
Throughout the remainder of the day, nutrient timing and meal composition remain key considerations.
The key is to eat sufficient calories, predominantly from natural carbohydrates and beneficial fats to continue replenishing depleted energy stores, and animal and plant-based proteins to support muscle recovery and tissue repair at every subsequent meal.
“What and when you eat will make a difference to your ultimate recovery,” concludes Wayne.