This Thursday evening again saw a few of us venture out to the desert and bike track at Al Qudra. The programme once again called for a 5 hour cycle set followed by a 30 minute run, and spirits were good as we set off at the earlier time of 6pm, this time in the last hour of daylight. This week I was joined by fellow Tri Pirates Jen, Jan and, later, Kyle, whilst UK Ironman preparee Matt also joined us for the session.
The first loop felt fine in spite of setting out in 42 degree heat. The pace was slower compared to last week but it was windy and very warm so this was certainly not an issue. I seem to cycle at an average HR of about 166 bpm and have been wondering whether I maybe should be keeping below this(?). Consumed about 1.5 bottles of the stronger electrolyte solution, in addition to topping one of the bottles up with water at the mosque on the return leg. Did not take on any additional nutrition during this period, although had eaten a reasonable meal about 1.5-2hrs prior to starting: chorizo, spinach & eggs, followed by apple, dark chocolate and milk. Also drank two cups of coffee. Adequate pre-training nutrition?
Also used the Fusion Sport Ice Vest system for the first loop, although by the end of it the gel pouches were warm, so clearly very hot.
We stopped to refuel prior to the second 50km loop, during which I ate a banana and topped up the bottles with water. Felt fine as we started the second loop. Fast initial third of the loop, then started to feel the energy levels wane. Took on a gel at approximately the 30-25km to home mark but felt pretty un-energetic. Pulled in to the mosque at the 10km to home mark and as we came to a stop succumbed to agonising cramp affecting the right leg (calf muscle & lower hamstring). Never felt cramp quite as bad before! Dismounted and ended up getting the ‘whites,’ feeling faint and sick and having to hit the deck, where I lay for about ten minutes recovering. Jan gave me half a Race Fuel bar and I sipped water until I felt better and able to resume riding. The rest of the ride was at a very leisurely pace and I did not feel great. Needless to say the ride was called early & I did not complete the 5 hours or run, as per the programme. Instead, took on a banana smoothie and can of Coke, before returning home. A disappointing result and a somewhat concerning trend for the longer cycle training session.
POTENTIAL ISSUES/ REASONS FOR BREAKDOWN:
1. Heat/ overheating – did I simply succumb to the heat without ever realising that I was dangerously overheating? It was hot when we set out, although the Ice Vest system did take the sting out of the tail. We only cycled for about an hour or so in daylight, so questionable how much influence this had.
2. Dehydration/ electrolyte imblance – did I drink enough? Not once during the ride did I feel as though I needed to go to the loo, in spite of drinking small amounts frequently. Averaged 1.5-2 bottles per loop, with 2x electrolyte solution bottles for the first loop and then a dilute solution plus electrolyte on the second. Did I need to add a higher concentration of electrolyte to my bottles for the second loop? With the wind it may be that I was sweating more profusely than I initially imagined. I understand that cramps are usually related to electrolyte issues and I have not had issues with cramping for the entire year to date. It has only been the past two Thursday evening cycle sessions that has seen me cramping.
3. Inadequate nutrition – I ate a carb light meal prior to starting the session, and did not take on any additional nutrition during the first 50km. Then took on a banana prior to starting the second, and a Gu gel during the loop itself. Enough?! Suspect I need to start taking on nutrition earlier and more consistently throughout the session, especially given my low carb diet at present.
4. Time of day – is it purely coincidental that it has been during the Thursday evening cycles that I have suffered physical setbacks? Could it simply be a manifestation of ‘end of day’ fatigue? Maybe a return to very early starts on Friday morning, following an early night of rest on Thursday is the key?
Some food for thought as training enters the really hot part of the year and the volume continues to build. A meeting with coach Trace is called for I reckon…
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