Cycling is a favorite past time of Americans across the country, including Dr. Pamela Peeke. Dr. Peeke is an internationally recognized expert, physician, avid cyclist and author of Body for Life for Women: A Woman’s Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation. According to Dr. Peeke, most people bike nine or 10 miles an hour, so a long-distance ride like this weekend’s Pedal on the Pier charity event in Santa Monica, Calif., would be a major challenge. Peeke says that to handle a grueling event like this, muscular adaptation is needed and that can only come through increasing aerobic endurance.
Here are 10 tips and pieces of advice from Dr. Peeke on preparing for and riding in such a race:
1. Make sure you have enough food on board, including a good balance of protein fat and carbohydrates: “One of my favorites that almost all athletes love is PB&J. Put peanut butter on a multigrain cracker, add a little jelly if you feel like it. That works really nicely and it really sticks to your ribs. The nice thing about that kind of a pre-exercise meal is that it doesn’t make you feel like you’re busting out of your clothes. It’s a very simple meal; it doesn’t overtax your body, but it does give you immediately accessible fuel. A lot of women try to avoid bread products like bagels because they tend to bloat out a little bit. I would use that if I was doing the 50 or 100 miles.” Jelly beans are a fast source of energy mid-race; they even make the candy with extra electrolytes. “They’re really easy to eat and they’re tasty and they go right on down,” Dr. Peeke says. She also recommends the 100-calorie goo. “Again, it’s immediate carbohydrates. That’s only for when you are getting really pooped out. You need appropriate amounts of accessible fuel and sustained fuel. That’s why the peanut butter is so great. Peanut butter on banana goes down real easily.”
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare: On how far in advance you should be preparing, Dr. Peeke says it depends on what level of physical activity you’re used to doing. “If you’re completely sedentary I’d start about three months in advance. If you’re someone that’s in pretty good shape and normally runs or does the elliptical – the bike is a different feel, if you haven’t done the bike before and want to do it well, I’d start four-to-six weeks in advance about twice a week. It takes the muscles time to adapt, you can’t just pick it up and do it unless you’re in really, really good shape.”
3. Be aware of your physical condition; running and other physical activity don’t necessarily translate to biking: “When runners say they’re in such great shape, ‘I just ran a marathon and now I’m going to do this bike thing,’ uh-oh. Be careful, it’s a whole different set of muscles. Clearly you’ll be better than any sedentary person, but just because you can run fast doesn’t mean you can bike fast.” Understand that if you don’t have experience cycling, a long race will be massively difficult and you’ll have to do some serious preparation. “Walk up to a really good cyclist and tell them [your regular workout routine] and that you’re thinking about doing this cycling thing. Ask what they think you should do.”
5. If you are doing 30+ miles, you must eat as you go along. Energy bars, energy drinks, jelly beans, goo – something to replenish.
6. Don’t forget to eat and drink after the big ride. “After the event, you have a window of approximately an hour during which time you must start repleting your carbohydrate stores because they’re pretty emptied out. You want to have orange slices, bananas, rolls, things like that. You have to get carbohydrates on board, don’t wait. Hydrate like there’s no tomorrow.”
7. Think of the greater good to overcome mental blocks mid-race: “Think like a Navy Seal. Navy Seals go through absolutely hellacious training, I don’t even want to think about it. How do they get through? I read a New York Times piece that explained how, when you’re out there and you’re feeling pain or hypothermia or lord knows what else, how do you talk yourself out of that? You think about the greater good. You think, ‘I’m here for all the people I work with. I’m here to protect them. I’m here to do the best job I possibly can for them.’ All of a sudden, the pain goes away. When people rise to a higher level mentally, they stop thinking about themselves and go to a much deeper place. It works. In this case, who are you doing this for? When you’re there and sweating, think about one particular kid that’s going to be able to go to a beautiful camp just because of you. You did that. That kid’s all about you and you’re all about that kid. Visualize that kid and all the fun they’re going to have. Next thing you know, another 10 miles went by.”
9. Learn to love water: 24 hours before the race hydrate with water, no need for sports drinks. “Drink like mad the day before. You can re-balance your hydration pretty quickly, but the day before is very important. You want to make sure you’re drinking really well the day before.” During the race, “never wait until you’re thirsty, that means you’re at least 250 mL behind. Make a plan to always have something to drink roughly every three miles. Even if it’s just a sip it helps.”
10. Be sure to rest: “If you’re going to do a long-term like a 50 or 100-miler, You shouldn’t do any kind of leg work for 24 to 48 hours before. Just leave the legs alone, you’re going to get beat up. That’s a very important piece of training.”
Reporting by Kevin Baumer/genConnect.com staff
For more on cycling and from Dr. Peeke on genConnect:
- Cycle for a Cause: Pedal on the Pier Charity Event Sunday in Santa Monica
- Steer Clear of Weight-Loss Drugs
- Jack LaLanne Continues to Motivate Dr. Pamela Peeke
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