Top Tips To Break Down Barriers to Fuelling Whilst Training in Winter
Winter is often the time to try and get long miles in the bank in preparation for the next year. One thing that many people seems to neglect in winter is optimal fuelling, which usually ends with the dreaded 'bonk', 'blow up' or 'hitting of the wall' that we think most cyclists can relate to. In summer, grovelling home because you under fuelled never seems too much of an issue when you are warm with a bit of sun on your back. However, in winter it can be a different story, the stuff of nightmares, when the lights go out and you're a long way from home.
Staying on top of optimal fuelling in winter is of the highest importance, not only to help with your training adaptions but also for maintenance of your immune function. For more detail on effective fuelling during winter training then click here, but for now, here are some top tips to help break down any barriers you may have to fuelling whilst out training in winter.
1. Make sure the food that you take with you is easy to open or already open. The whole thick gloves, tough packaging situation is an age old excuse for under fuelling on a ride and we aren't buying it.
2. Choose foods that aren’t going to be affected by the low temperature for example hard packed cereal bars can become a bit of mission to eat, try energy gels, bananas, small jam sandwiches or our Anytime Bars.
3. Make sure your food is easy to get to. Being in your back pocket but under lots of layers of winter kit can make it a real challenge to find. Why not try stuffing a few pieces of food up the front of your jersey making for much easier access, especially if the pace of the ride is high.
4. Think long and hard about your glove selection: a thick glove can be warm but not always practical when trying negotiate fuelling whilst riding. It can also be a good idea to take a spare pair of gloves in your back pock on those cold & wet days. That change of gloves mid ride can be a real morale booster and keeps frozen fingers at bay making it much easier to get your food.
5. Try making up your bottles with warm water before the start. This just helps delay the inevitable ‘brain freeze bottle’ until a bit later into the ride.
6. Always take a bit of emergency money with you so if it all just gets too cold…you can get a nice warm drink in a café.
7. Remember: even though it is cold, we still sweat quite a bit under all our layers of kit, maybe even just as much as on a hot summers day. So as much as it's not very tempting, force yourself to stay on top of hydration throughout your ride. Dehydration can negatively affect sporting performance and concentration, and no one wants that.
8. The winter roads can be a dirty place, and inevitably this gets all over your bottle. Before taking a swig think about wiping the top, and do you know where is (usually) the cleanest place to wipe it? Believe it or not, under your arm pit. Due to our riding positions this is normally the place that see’s the least muck and grime.
9. Contrary to popular belief we don’t actually burn more calories when exercising in the cold, not unless we start to shiver. However, what eating food can do is help you produce heat and warm up the body. So having a bit of something to eat every 30-40 minutes can be a good trick to help maintain your body temperature.
10. Getting cold can increase your appetite above normal levels, that is why we always feel so hungry in winter. Anticipate this by having good quality food in the cupboards for when you arrive home after training. Something like an OTE recovery shake is a much better way of curb that appetite compared to reaching for junk carbs like crisps and biscuits.