Building endurance with a nutrition focus

Hey Fast Talk Labs community, here’s one of my favorite workouts for building my endurance in the spring to come out strong for the late-spring and summer MTB season!

Usually as the warmer spring weather rolls in, I’ll take 1 day per week off of work and do a big ride where I’ll drop off the kids at school at 8am, and then accumulate as much mileage and vertical as possible, building this from lower vertical/higher mileage the first week, and topping out with a high vertical day/lower mileage a few weeks later.

Here’s one ride from Training Peaks. If you’re familiar with Boulder routes, this ride included Flagstaff, Sugarloaf, Magnolia, and then Flagstaff again, with a hilly return home to pick up the kids at school just in time.

The goals:

  1. Climb at a very controlled sub-threshold/threshold effort on every climb. Note the low cadence ranges I’m hitting (yellow lines) to accommodate the steeper terrain. Otherwise heart rate would spike high and the ride would be difficult to finish strongly.
  2. Use my bottles while climbing. They are filled with water + electrolytes + carbohydrates for quick energy and hydration.
  3. As soon as I get to the top of the climb, stuff solid food in my mouth for the ride back down, aiming to get basically as much in as possible so I can get back on the gas for the next effort.

These aren’t easy rides. They are a significant training load, so there is not really any hard riding in the days around these efforts. These are the key sessions for the week.

Let’s hear some of your favorites!
Coach Ryan

1 Like

Greetings, Coach Ryan. I’m Radit from Indonesia.

Lately i found that pro athlete is using fat a lot better than amateur on lower zone so they can efficiently spare the stored glycogen. On the contrary, amateur tends to use a lot of carbs even on the lower zone.

The question is,

  1. Is that why i always hungry on my LSD? Because i use mainly carbs and severely emptied my glycogen storage?
  2. as an amateur should i train my fat oxidation rate? And how can i effectively train that?

Thanks :slight_smile:

Hi @rdt.byantara, welcome to the forum!

Great point, and great question, regarding fuel utilization. So yes, you’re right about the pro athlete and their ability to oxidize fat. That is a hallmark of high level cyclists. The best part is that all of us can actually achieve a high % of what we might see in pro level athletes by structuring our training correctly. As we develop ourselves, we do improve our ability to oxidize fat as a primary fuel source and prolong that time point where carbohydrate oxidation predominates. So, to your questions:

  1. Yes, that is a very likely scenario. If you are working at an intensity that is beyond your body’s maximal fat oxidation capacity, then carbohydrate oxidation becomes the predominant fuel, and our storage capacity is limited enough that without adequate exogenous carbohydrate intake, we can run into that state of hunger fairly quickly.
  2. Absolutely. Amateur or pro, training that fat oxidation rate is crucial to your performance. There are a number of ways to go about this. We can certainly alter fat oxidation nutritionally, and this is where you will hear/see suggestions like low-carb diets, fasted training, etc. However, that’s not my cup of tea. My primary recommendation for training this fat oxidation is doing your rides/runs/etc. at an appropriately low heart rate to sufficiently stress that lower aerobic end of the spectrum. The common mistake is to train too hard. There are some great webinars and workshops to check out on the site, but basically if we aim to exercise below LT1, we will train that aspect of our performance very well.

Here are a couple great starting points to dive deeper into that information:

  1. What Exactly is a Long Slow Distance Ride?
  2. Moving from Polarized Training to Personally Optimized Training with Dr. Stephen Seiler
  3. How Long, How Slow with Dr. Stephen Seiler
  4. Low Energy Availability and Performance (this will help on the nutritional side, as you are going to need to manage energy to support your training focus)

How long have you been training, Radit? What are your goals that are driving your training progression?

Coach Ryan


Hi @ryan,
I like this info since I do like to get out and do these types of rides “early in the season” (which means March-April in South Central Wisconsin). You mention:

Is this done with just a know brand of sports drink or do you concoct your own mix? I have been looking to try doing my own mix but unsure what to use for the electrolyte (salt and baking soda?) or the carbs (table sugar, fruit juice, or some other sweetener)?


Hi @bgkeen,
So yes, I have my own mix that I like at the moment. For racing I’ll sometimes go with the Matcha Green Tea Skratch because it’s a unique taste and a good change from my other mix, but in general when I’m doing my own mix I keep it pretty simple only because my stomach handles it well and it would otherwise go to waste.

So that personal mix comes from a couple leftover Gatorade bags of lemon-lime (the ones that make gallons upon gallons of mix) and I will do a small to moderate amount of sugar (~25-45g CHO serving per bottle) depending on the type of ride, and then I’ll mix in 1/2 to 1 pouch of Liquid IV (lemon-lime flavor) per bottle to increase the sodium a bit and improve my ability to tolerate the Gatorade flavor. Even when it gets a bit warm on the ride, the lemon-lime Liquid IV is satisfying enough that I’m still encouraged to drink adequately.

I also use this product called Will Powder Sodium Citrate if I’m going for higher sodium intake and want to reduce the sea water taste from too much sodium chloride. Sometimes I’ll mix that with water, a tiny bit of fruit juice, and use that for hot days while keeping my fuel from other sources (gels, blocks, etc.).

Definitely want to get close to that 2:1 glucose/fructose ratio, and have sodium as the primary electrolyte. During exercise there are certainly other electrolytes you will lose in sweat, but they are insignificant compared to the potential sodium losses. For salt, I would aim for sodium citrate instead of sodium chloride, and then the sugar you just have to be careful with the concentration in the bottle. I prefer lower %CHO mixtures on the scale of 2-3% whenever possible, especially when doing long rides where I have to worry about taste fatigue from overly-sweet items after 4-5 hours.

What have you tried so far?
Coach Ryan

1 Like

wow, really appreciate the answer. I really enjoy doing structured training on an indoor trainer. Especially in this pandemic situation it is my kind of meditating time.

I’ve been doing structured training since August. Kind of self coached with polarized method. I tried to adjust my training menu from many sources, mainly from podcast (Fast talk is my main source of course. since Dr. Seiler is there). Being self coached for 3 months I overworked myself. There’s time I need almost 3 weeks to rest from the fatigue accumulation. I tend to go really hard wether on the hard days or on the easy day (i thought i need to increase the LSD duration every week till eventually burned out)

now i’m trying something new with doing sweet spot based training. It’s on week 3 and the fatigue starts to catching up. lol.
While on it, do you have any advice for doing sweet spot based training? especially on the nutrition side. my workout is about 1.5 hour daily and 2 hour on the weekend. Still doing some LSD on the weekend for up to 3.5 hour indoor but not frequent.

Thx :slight_smile:

1 Like

It sounds like we do similar mix mastering except you have a few things added due to you better knowledge…

I also like to use a product (Skratch) packs for event days and put in bottles and have extra packs in my jersey. As well as for non-event days I have the giant gatorade canister that I put scoops in bags to add to bottle for long rides. I have added a variety of things (not all at once) like table salt, table sugar, opened salt stick capsules, baking soda (I can handle about .5 teaspoon per bottle), fruit juice, coconut water…I will have to give the Will Powder a try. It looks like a decent price that can go a long way.

One thing that I do like to add for my long day in the saddle is Ghost Amino Warhead Sour Apple flavor. It is BCAAs. I am not sure if it hurts or helps me. But for long rides that sour taste really does something that quenches my thirst and mentally helps me. It also really enhances/complements the lemon/lime of my gatorade (I think I will need to give the liquid IV a try as well).

Thanks for sharing. This is one area where I am always looking for ways to get a good bulk way of mix-mastering my nutrition for my training rides.

Hi Radit, you’re welcome. Yes, the indoor trainers have been a real treat to have during the pandemic! Glad to hear it has been a positive experience for you.

So I see you’ve experienced that progression of going too hard for too long and overcooking yourself. That’s part of figuring out the training process, and something we’ve all been through at some point. Use caution with the sweet spot based training because you can easily do the same thing and ride hard enough, long enough, to build up some really big fatigue.

Regarding the sweet spot training and nutrition, we have to consider the energy expenditure with something like sweet spot vs. lower intensity base work. It’s definitely going to be higher because we are riding at an intensity that we can sustain for a good amount of time, and we’re doing it very consistently. If you’re blocking up days of sweet spot, you can see expenditures adding up to easily 300-500+ additional calories per day, so thinking about that in terms of managing that energy is key. Use your rides as opportunities to fuel before, during, and after because of the performance-enhancing effect of in-ride fueling (e.g., carbohydrates to support the intensity in those 1.5-2 hour rides). Outside of your workouts, you might consider tuning up the serving size of one of your meals slightly and/or a snack throughout the day. So instead of 1 of your typical servings, you might go with up to 1.5 servings. Nothing magical in that number, but just being able to consume a little more 1-2 times per day can easily help us to manage our energy output and support the recovery needs. I hope that helps!

Coach Ryan

1 Like

@bgkeen those are great ideas you’ve been using. And kudos to figuring out how much baking soda you can handle. That can wreck your stomach, so knowing your limits with it is smart!

Yes, the Will Powder lasts me quite a long time, definitely worth the price.

The BCAAs are interesting. From a performance perspective, I find that the doses are rarely adequate to do anything for us, but you mention an important aspect of fueling that can be often overlooked - the mental aspect and getting you to drink more than you might otherwise. Switching up that taste profile throughout can really help keep the fluids and fuel coming in.

I think there are a lot of great ideas for what people have found successful, so really glad to see how this one developed. Hopefully others can get some ideas from all of the community input!

Coach Ryan

1 Like