How to Train for a 24 Hour Event

Subscriber Jim writes in :

“Ok its all your fault, you said ride thru the winter, find some
motivation, age is no excuse, enter an event. Well I have only entered the Kielder Chiller 24 hour mtb ride in February at the age of 57. It’s certainly motivated me to ride through the winter!

Couple of questions. What real food would you recommend?

I have been looking at some boil in the bag expedition foods, any other suggestions? (It’s totally self supported so I will be taking a load of gels etc and a camping gas stove). Would you take a protein shake during the ride and would you suggest any eating plan in the days before the ride?

Regards Jim”

Anyone interested in a long distance/overnight event should get ​​​​​​​benefit from this answer.

So, here’s some quick fire tips which should help with the food side of things for this event :

– Eat medium-slow release carbs rather than sugars and fast acting gels. As the ride is so long, it’s really important you keep your ​​​​​​​sugar levels stable. Gels, and high sugar foods like sweets etc., will ​​​​​​​actually spike your sugar levels which will lead to crashes in blood sugar.

​​​​​​​If you stick to medium-slow release carbs like oats/potatoes/nutty cereal bars etc. you will find your sugar levels are more stable. Save the gels for the last 90 minutes where you may need that last push to get you to the end.

– Take in protein (and maybe good fats) every few hours. For such a long ride you are going to need to take in some ‘proper’ food. You can’t just have carbs. You’ll want to have some protein and potentially some good fats ​​​​​​​too. Over a 10 minute break, for example, you may want to have some chicken and rice as an example. Another really good option would be to get hold of some military-ration packs. These are really calorie dense, vacuum packed so take up little space and are easy to eat.

– Don’t under-eat. The key with such a long event is to not under-eat. You will burn a LOT of calories over that 24 hours. If we say an average burn of 400 calories per hour when riding…over 24 hours thats nearly 10,000 calories. You want to replace a good percentage of that while you ride, to make sure you don’t lose energy and bonk. I would plan to take too much food, and not eat it all, rather than be left short.

– Hydrate! You will lose roughy 0.5l sweat per hour of riding (GCN did a brilliant video testing this). You also need to replace this as you ride to ensure you don’t dehydrate. Take in plenty of liquid… and also electrolytes, to stay hydrated.

– In the days leading up to the ride you don’t need to overeat. You just need to make sure you eat enough. You should have been fuelling fully for your training rides, so shouldn’t need to eat anything special or ‘carb load’ before that event. Your muscles can only store so much glycogen – when they are full, they are full and overeating isn’t going to help. With that being said, make sure you have enough carbs in your diet in the days leading up to the event so your muscles can be full and ready to go!

Hopefully these tips will help you out.

If anyone reading this has done a 24 hour riding event, I’d love to hear your tips 🙂

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