My biggest discovery for this year in terms of cycling and training is … food. Over the years I have heard lots of people talk about it. To me though, food was still food. There was good food (healthy, nutritious foods, like things that come from nature) and then there is bad food (junk foods, fast food, etc). What I didn’t realize was that food as a fuel has tremendous potential for good or evil in the body.
This weekend I ran a 5K on Saturday, and then rode an especially difficult 75 mile training ride on Sunday. The hardest moment of the weekend was actually getting up at 6AM in the dark, in the cold on Sunday, with sore legs from the run and convincing myself to go ride. I actually put my socks on and then took them off again at least three times as the devil and the angel on my shoulders fought it out. There was a great battle, but in the end I rode. At mile 5 (after the first categorized climb with cold sore legs) I was already talking myself out of being able to complete the ride, knowing that just two miles away, I would be faced with another hard climb.
But my riding buddy and close friend recently bought (and bought a copy for me as well, Thanks B!) Feed Zone. He started the day by handing me some foil packs of “rice cakes” that were white rice mixed with some other things. I am pretty sure there was something magical in them, like the Lembas Bread. They actually delicious. By mile 20 I was feeling pretty good, but the legs were still heavy and sore. By mile 50, we had conquered most of the big climbs, and I felt great! I couldn’t believe that just eating enough and eating the right foods were enough to bring me from doubting I could get out of bed, to climbing 5000+ feet in 40° weather. After the ride we had a recovery smoothie made from beets, fruits, and recovery power.
Food is fuel. Like all fuels there are different grades. The better the fuel, the better the engine will run. I am often tempted by bad foods. I remember how much it hurts to recover from a night of beer and I am swayed to eat well. There is always going to be times of indulgence, where the regiment relaxes and we party like it’s 1999. Those parties can’t be today. Not when there is so much progress in the training.