Bike MS is more than just a ride – it's also the anticipation and preparation for an incredible experience. Training is a journey in itself and is essential to a successful and enjoyable ride. Training will help you to prepare mentally and physically for Bike MS.
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Eat Like a Cyclist
Be smart about food to consolidate your gains on the bike. Here's how.
Written by Selene Yeager with Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, courtesy of Bicycling Magazine
So you want to get fit and fast, and feel great? The riding is the key to reaching that goal, but your eating habits might need to change, too. Accounting for the food you take in is the necessary first step. Too often people want to overhaul their eating but don't have a clue about what they are currently doing. They don't think about how many times a day they eat, or where, or how fast they plow through lunch, and so on. The answer: Write down what you consume.
Several kinds of food journals are available; you can find them online and in the book we're excerpting here. Keep a log daily if possible, to identify patterns then pick the areas you want to work on.
The more detail you provide, the more you'll get out of this. Just writing "sandwich" is not nearly as revealing as "turkey and cheese on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato" or "meatball hero." And that goes for amounts, too. A glass could be a vat, and a handful could be a small jar. Use measuring cups and spoons. Often when people try to lose weight, portion control is the biggest barrier. After three days, use the log to adjust your eating habits going into the following week.
Time of Day
Are your calories spread evenly through the day? If so, good. If not, it's probably true that like many people, you're eating most of your food at night. Think about how you can redistribute those calories for energy all day long, starting with your morning meal.
Location is more of a factor than you might think. If you always eat in front of your computer and find yourself snacking soon after your meal, that's a flag that you're not registering that you just ate because you're distracted. Eating should be an event in and of itself.
Winning the award for grab, gulp, and go? The "prize" is generally excess pounds. If it takes you less than 20 minutes to finish a meal, work on slowing down to prevent overeating.
Your plate should be filled with reasonable portions. Three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Grains, potatoes, pasta, and rice should be about the size of one tightly balled fist. The correct portions are probably a little smaller than you think they should be because we, as a society, have been supersizing for more than a decade. Start cutting down to the right sizes. You won't miss the excess.
How and When to Hydrate
Everything you need to know to stay hydrated—before, during and after a ride.
Written by Marianne McGinnie, courtesy of Bicycling Magazine
Sipping fluids before and after a hot-weather workout is just as important as drinking during a ride. Here we turn to the experts for the when, how and what of staying quenched.
Time It Right
Hydrating before pedaling helps you avoid drying out on the road. For best absorption, sip 12 to 16 ounces of water four hours before hopping onto your bike; two hours before, sip another 12 ounces. While riding, drink enough to match the intensity of the exercise, the heat of the day and your body's needs—the average recommendation is one 16-ounce bottle per hour in cool weather, up to as many as four bottles per hour in extremely hot weather, based on a 150-pound cyclist. Afterward, your goal is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. If the ride was easy or moderate, sipping water and having a small meal within an hour of finishing should be sufficient, but if the ride was long and intense, use the weighing method below to determine your drinking regimen.
People sweat at different rates, and rides vary in terrain, speed and distance, but hydration goals are the same regardless. "Your aim is to minimize fluid and electrolyte loss or gain," says Douglas Casa, Ph.D., the director of athletic training education at the University of Connecticut, at Storrs. The best way to learn your individual sweat rate: Step on the scale before and after a long or hard ride. If you weigh less afterward, you should be drinking a bit more; if you weigh more, you should cut back to avoid overhydration.
Keep It Simple
"On easier rides, stick with water. You'll get the mother lode of electrolytes, calories and fluids from the meals and fluids you consume prior to, and after, your ride," says Casa, who's been researching hydration and exercise issues for more than a decade. When a ride is intense, pushes past an hour, or is in hot weather, consider a sports drink. "I recommend staying away from the stuff with 9,000 ingredients," says Casa. "You just need the essentials—fluid, carbohydrates and electrolytes."
Try and Try Again
The only way to find what drinks work for you is by testing them. "Some products may not taste good to you, while others may sit in your stomach in a bad way," says Casa. If you're the type of salty sweater who finds white streaks on your jersey after a ride, you may need a drink with more sodium. For extreme salt sweaters, Casa suggests adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 16 ounces of sports drink (that's 600mg of sodium). If you find that a sports drink upsets your stomach, try diluting it with water. "Just never start a big event with a new product in your bottle," says Casa. "That's a recipe for disaster."