Finally figured out why I feel so rough today. Plain and simple – I was dumb. I went out for my three hour ride with little to no carbohydrates in my system and only water in my bottles. To top it off, it was cold and raining. At about two hours into my ride, my power was jumping all over the place, my cadence was erratic and my stomach was grumbling. But like an idiot, I ignored the body signals.
“I only have an hour left, I don’t need to eat. I’ll just drink some water.” Well, when it came to the for the 30 minute tempo block, I was useless. I couldn’t keep the power numbers where I wanted, I was grinding away at 83 rpm. I was a slug on the bike. Of course by now, the hunger sensations were gone – guess my body was focusing on just getting me home.
Now, I had food. My jersey was loaded with Clif Shot Bloks and Clif Shot Gel. But I didn’t eat them. Nope. Just slugged back more water and berated myself for riding so poorly. I was convinced there was a problem with my power meter or maybe with the cadence magnet. That 175 watts felt like 400 watts and I just couldn’t understand why. I rested on Thursday. I concluded that I was just having a bad day on the bike.
I should have clued in when I got home and couldn’t decide on my lunch. Normally during my rides I’m planning my next meal. Assembling super salads, power smoothies, and crazy yogurt/fruit/nut bowls. Not this time. Food didn’t really enter my head. So I went for something simple: 6 stalks of celery with almond butter spread on them and then a bowl of All Bran with raspberries and chocolate protein powder. Yep, pretty darn dumb. After eating I really started to feel worse. Wicked headache. Wobbly legs. My eyesight was kind of funny. Just a general malaise. I slugged back more water (note by this time it was 1:00 and I hadn’t gone to the bathroom since 9:00…).
I guess I was in bonk city. I chatted with Marc and he informed me that celery and All Bran were not adequate carbohydrate sources after a three hour ride. Suppose he had a point… A two hour nap ensued and I just devoured two Luna Chocolate Peppermint Stick bars. I’m slowly feeling better.
I learned a hard lesson today. Eat when you feel hungry. Actually, eat before you feel hungry. Listen to your body. Don’t be a dummy about food. Sometimes I get caught in that “weight loss” syndrome of so many endurance athletes – trying to closely control my intake and cutting it very close with the carbohydrate intake. I suppose in a week where every ride (with the exception of Thursday’s recovery ride) was a minimum of three hours, I should have loosened my “rules” a bit.
Not the best day on the bike. But a valuable one.
Sounds like a familiar story. The same thing happened to me last year during the Rideau Lakes Tour. My problem was lack of knowledge more then anything else. I didn’t have any Shot gels etc….. (at the time I didn’t know what they were!).
So here I was doing a 180 km. ride without the right fuel. When I bonked, I didn’t know what was happening. In a group doing +35 kmph and poof, no energy.
Happily my pal’s Nephew came to the rescue with the gels, encouragement, and advice.
You are right Vicky… “Listen to your body.”. Mind over matter only goes so far.