Team GB Track Cyclist, Joe Truman, on the changes he made to his fuelling strategies.
As an athlete, you’re constantly looking to find the extra edge that might make the difference between a medal or missing out, so optimising fuelling in my race day and training environments is of big interest. Through a lot of trial and error, I came to realise that for most of my career I had been under fuelling. I had presumed as a sprinter, whose events only last up to 60s, that fuelling during sessions wasn’t particularly necessary, and was much more important to endurance athletes who spend long hours in the saddle hacking away at the pedals.
For example, during a typical short and punchy session on the Velodrome I’d often only have water and possibly a banana, based on the belief that 3 minutes of total ‘sprint work’ wouldn’t burn enough calories to warrant extra carb intake. What’s more, on race days where I could be racing from 9am to 9pm there isn’t really time for proper meals, so I’d load up on simple gels and sweets. This came with a number of issues for my body, leading to stomach cramps and discomfort plus the need to carefully time my intake so that I could avoid a glucose dip.
Since realising this, I’ve made 2 major changes to my fuelling strategies and have felt massive improvements.
First: I decided to fuel as well in training as I would on a race day. Where previously I’d worry, I’d be having too many calories and be putting on excess weight, I found it actually led me to being able to keep up a higher intensity for the latter efforts of the session. My times and performances over a session now stay more consistent and I’m able to put out better numbers for longer. I’ve since learnt that even though as a sprinter my total ‘work’ times are short, even during the rest periods between sprints I’m still expending large amounts of energy to recover from the hole we are able to put ourselves in from sprinting. For example, even in sessions with less than 2 minutes total work, I’ll still burn over 1000kcal, and its similar for big gym sessions. Being adequately fuelled in training also makes sessions so much more fun and enjoyable, I’m a big believer that happy head = fast legs and fuelling really helps this too.
Second: I made Perple my predominant fuelling source for training and race days. Where before I’d be put off from hitting my carb targets due to GI upset, since making the change I haven’t had any issues at all. Fuelling for me now is as simple as calculating my required carb intake, and dividing it by the number of bottles I’m likely to drink, simple as that. Also, being a mix of release speeds, I can drink carbs throughout the race day without thinking about timing, meaning one less distraction, and more focus on racing.
An unexpected benefit I found was that I didn’t experience the ‘sugar hangover’, the day after racing, which meant improved performance over consecutive race days such as World Championships or Commonwealth Games.
Perple has definitely changed my outlook to sports nutrition when it comes to fuelling, bring on Paris 2024.
- Optimising carb intake isn’t just a marginal gain, but a maximal gain!
- In workouts where you work and rest, it’s important to look at rest times too when calculating energy expenditure. (Sprinters burn calories too!)
- Happy head = Fast legs
- Perple is a stomach friendly way of getting carbs in.
- Less need to time carbohydrate doses as Perple is multi-sourced.
- Avoid the ‘sugar hangover’ when racing back-to-back days.
Author: Joe Truman