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When it's not getting easier...grab a sandwich

Posted Jul 07 2010 12:05am
 It was Fabian Chancellara Appreciation Day at my house today...

"It doesn't get easier, you just go faster."
 -Greg LeMond

The thing I like about this quote is that it's quite versatile for us endurance athletes. Both " just go farther." and " just get stronger." work.  I'm sure you can all think of your own variants. 

But on the other side of the coin, " actually gets more complicated." works too.  And for me at the moment it's a little bit of all of them, depending on the day.

Yesterday I went out and did a fairly intense 40 miles on the bike, and completely crashed when I got home.  It was clearly a case of me screwing up my nutrition - again.  Today I went out for a 5 mile run.  I ended up running 8:10/8:10/8:00/7:45/7:26 miles.  This is the first time I've run a sub 40 minute 5 miles.

Weird, huh?

When I was focusing on sprint triathlons, training became fairly routine.  It wasn't easy, but I was fairly consistent with respect to output and result.  Now that I've got my sights set on Olympic distance races, my training is increasing from about 7 hours to 10 hours a week.  I must admit these extra 3 hours are kicking my ass.  With the longer sessions, nutrition is way more important.  And I'm doing a terrible job of getting it right.

I was talking to my swim coach about nutrition tonight.  Actually, it was just me complaining, because despite the fact that I am following (my understanding of) a pretty conventional nutrition intake strategy, I am still bonking.

He made an interesting suggestion.  He said that maybe I should lose the gels and bring a peanut butter sandwich and a banana on my next long ride.  He reckons I need more than just the sugar boost from the gel, and depending solely on sugar isn't helping my body adapt to burning the last of my extra fat anyway.  I thought it was an interesting suggestion, though the idea of a sandwich and a couple of bananas hanging out of my bike jersey pockets doesn't hold much appeal for some reason.
I'm obsessed with the Fizik bicycle saddle logo at the moment...

Then on the way home from the pool I had an idea - the "Pik-nik Endurance Sandwich" - a/k/a individually wrapped all natural "power" sandwiches about the size of a Clif bar.  The bread would be a bit like a whole wheat pita, but square and softer.  Flavors would include peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter and banana.  Then there is the "European Series" - hard meats and cheeses in one and Nutella with strawberry puree in another.  I figure they'll be about 300 calories each and provide more overall nutritional value (and kick) than the average gel.

Development challenges:  How are they made crush proof?  How do you preserve the right moistness and texture?  Do they need to be non-perishable, or should they have a "best by" date and need to be consumed within 12 hours after being taken out of a refrigerator?  Since I've only been in the food business for 3 hours, there is undoubtedly tons more I am not thinking of.

Anyway what do you think?  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Interesting idea?  Stick to my day job?  Let me know....Because I'm only half joking.

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