/ Eating / stamina tips for a long commute

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EeeByGum - on 26 Mar 2012
I cycle 20 miles a day to and from work. Well I say that. Monday and Tuesday are fine. Wednesday I get the train home as I go climbing and by Friday I get the train to and from work as I am totally spent. I also regularly crash on the way home and need to stop for sweets and coke. I am ravenously hungry all the time.

How can I stop myself crashing? I have tried eating (snack bars) before I go home but this doesn't seem to work. Am I just being a wuss in being so shattered by Friday? Is there anything I can do about it?
Andy Hardy on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Is that 20 miles each way or 10?

I'm no expert, but since you're commuting not racing, I'd suggest riding a bit slower?
EeeByGum - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to 999thAndy: 10 miles each way. I tried to cycle a bit slower this morning, but a-holes in cars and bikes plus a beautiful morning got me going again!
tlm - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I would think sugary snacks really wouldn't help with trying to stabalise your blood sugar?

Maybe you should just eat more normal food at mealtimes?
AlisonSmiles - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: My cycle commute is 8 miles, and at my peak of fitness (which isn't high) I can manage three days a week. My tip for the top is to eat something around 4pm if you're leaving at 5pm - banana or chewy bar, cereal, whatever your favorite is. How long before you leave have you been eating? What do you eat at lunch? Do you have breakfast before the morning ride or after?
MarkM - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
1) Eat a decent lunch

2) supplement with a decent energy bar (can buy bulk from wiggle or other online) or flapjack at least 30 min before evening ride home

3) Let yourself have the occaional relaxed ride to/from work

steev on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

YOU might find that eating something or drinking some chocolate milk VERY soon after your ride in in the morning leaves you with more in the tank in the afternoon.
Liam M - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: I generally commute less distance, but run straight after getting home. I find that eating something a little fatty and carby an hour or so before setting off helps. A cheese sandwich at about 4ish helps stave off sugar crashes until about 9pm or so when I get to eat tea.

I also agree with taking the ride easy most of the time - refusing to switch to the big chain ring on my (triple) training bike has helped enforce this.
balmybaldwin - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Are you carrying much extra weight (i.e. have you any fat/energy reserves?) and are you racing there and back? what sort of time does it take you? are you on or off road?

If you have a heart rate monitor try keeping your heart rate in the 65-75% range and try not to go higher (you may need to on hills) this should help improve your efficiency and reduce your energy consumption a bit

I do about 9 miles each way - generally in about 30 minutes depending on getting held up in traffic

I leave in the morning after a cup of tea, no breakie - eat breakfast at work - normally a bowl of porridge or some cornflakes

bagette sandwich for lunch (eat half at lunch and eat the other half about 3pm

Ride back about 5-5:30 (tend to be a bit gentler on the way home)

Eat a decent evening meal (tends to include quite a lot of carbs - bread, pasta etc)

Having been road riding since August last year and being a smoker carrying about a sotne of extra weight I am not the fittest in the world at the moment (commuting is helping to change this) and I am reaonably happy doing this every day when I can... it's more a case of if I can get up early to do ride than the actually riding

Have you looked closely at your route? plot it on: http://www.bikehike.co.uk/mapview.php and tick the show elevation dat box on the map control panel, you may find you are going downhill on the way in and up hill on the way home which may be distorting the way you burn energy.

Maybe try eating a small pasta or something carby rather than sugary around 3?
EeeByGum - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to balmybaldwin: Cheers for the advice and I love the link. I am not particularly fat or fatty. I do carry a pannier, but need to really as I get sore shoulders if I take a rucksack. You must really cane it if you do 9 miles in 30 minutes. I do my 10 miles in about 50 minutes on a good day which includes 5-10 minutes of waiting for red lights. It sounds to me like I need to slow down and take it a bit easier as well as eating before I set out. Will see how I fair this week, but being got up at 5am by the nipper today does not bode well!
levon on 26 Mar 2012
I do a similar commute and try and get a couple of hilly longer rides to work in as well.

It does make me very hungry but I don't normally bonk and I really enjoy being able to eat more

What I've found good is to have a decent breakfast on arrival - a massive bowl of muesli with a banana and then a normal lunch of sarny with an apple, some other fruit and an oaty bar of some sort (home made flapjack when the wife has obliged). That normally gets me home OK.

I have recently also been running in once a week and this has made me take it easier on the bike for at least a couple of the rides as my legs are knackered. Perhaps try and make sure you keep the cadence up high to prevent too much force and so getting carried away, but I know it is difficult not to race home - one other thing is I have stopped putting my computer on average speed and then racing that, which has made me less likely to race in and out as fast as I can!

Toby_W on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I ride Bristol to Bath each day ~14 miles.

I found that doing it everyday left me fatigued all the time but on weekend club rides I could shrug this off and pull the whole group round a 50 mile ride at quite a pace. I was constantly watching my weight to make sure it stayed up but unless I was careful it dropped (I'm very thin as it is).
What I do now is force myself to have a big breakfast and take an energy drink with me. I take much bigger lunchs often eat in our canteen just to get the calories in.

Each way is about 800-1000 calories.

I've signed up to a load of sportives this year and am looking forward to putting in some good times.

If I was you I'd borrow a heart rate monitor that can estimate calorie use and then make sure you're eating enough to either maintain weight or drop a small amount as you desire.

Good luck.

Lord of Starkness - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

10 miles each way does not sound a big commute - but I suppose it depends on how lumpy the route is. I regularly did the Tynemouth / Newcastle (or Gateshead) trip when I were a lad before I got lazy and had a car.

I'd think nothing of it nowadays -- if my commute wasn't just a 5m(etre) walk from the bedroom to the 'office'.

I ride regularly so wouldn't consider carrying drink or a gel on anything under 30 miles unless its a hot day -- but then again I'm a bit of a 'camel' who would regularly climb in the arabian desert in midsummer.
balmybaldwin - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to balmybaldwin) .... You must really cane it if you do 9 miles in 30 minutes.

Ah by my route is pretty much flat!
aquazepp - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I commute 40 miles a day (20 each way) 5 times a week (& ride at the weekends). Average speeds 18mph on the way in 16.5mph on way home.

Arriving at work I always eat 2 bananas when I get there.

About 90 minutes before I ride home I have a bowl of porridge (I've stopped getting strange looks now). The slow release carbs of the porridge fuel the ride home easily. At home I always have a small snack (sandwich) within 20 mins of arrival.

Works for me...

I also carry a couple of 'get out of jail' energy gels but they are probably out of date now...
Landy_Dom on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Have you considered the possibility of dehydration? symptoms can be similar to hunger / low blood sugar.

I commute 10 miles each way and do it in about 40 mins in (more downhill) and 50 minutes home (more uphill).

I'm trying to lose weight so eating relatively little, but drinking loads of water (a litre or 2 at work in between the usual cups of tea) and feeling fine on that. When I get home I feel massively "hungry" but down a pint or so of water and feel a lot better for it - not hungry anymore.
aligibb - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to Landy_Dom:
I did 15 miles a day each way on rolling leicestershire hills and whilst was hungry and tired by the end of the week normally managed it 4 out of 5 days, and I was doing gymwork etc alongside.
My routine was 2 breakfasts - muesli at home and then an egg sarnie or more muesli and yoghurt or something substantial when I arrived. Mid morning banana and biccie and then normal lunch. Mid afternoon snack to get me home about an hr before I left just some kind of carbs granary bread and butter if nothing else and then the same when i got back in.
I found the biggest thing was eating properly in the evening and if i got enough fuel inside me it would last the next day. I know this isn't the general advice but i found a big lunch sent me crashing in the afternoon. Hope it helps!
Pagan - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

> being got up at 5am by the nipper today does not bode well!

This ^ sort of thing certainly won't help. I'm riding every day at the moment (14 miles-ish round trip) plus riding to and from the wall in the evenings and 80-90 miles (or more) at weekends and I find that without a decent night's sleep I'm worse than useless. I'll survive the commute but I'll be dead on my feet by early afternoon.

I second the hydration comments too - I usually get through at least 1 1/2 litres of water a day just sitting at my desk, plus cups of tea (usually around 8 or 9 of them in a day). Again, if I start getting dehydrated, I really notice the effects.

Diet-wise - decent bowl of muesli first thing to get me to the office, bananas on the desk for staving off the mid-morning hunger pangs, decent size lunch (usually carb-based), more bananas before riding home and a decent carby meal in the evening.

It took a couple of weeks to adapt to the mileage too - I used to ride in 3-4 times a week and let myself get the bus/train when I felt a bit knackered. It took a bit of self-discipline the first couple of weeks of riding every day but it's second nature now.
KevinD - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

how long you been doing it for and what other training do you do?

i have been lazy and do shedload of homeworking now but comfortably did 10 miles each way 5 days a week plus other stuff on top for a couple of years.
However it took a while to work up to it.

plus depends on the terrain i guess (my commute is fairly easy).
Tim Chappell - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

being got up at 5am by the nipper

Case solved, Watson
Hardonicus - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: Have you just started cycling recently? If so you will adjust and will find yourself not hanging out of your arse after a month or so. Just have a banana and a coffee 20 mins before you clock off...
rlines - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Hardonicus: I agree with this. I started the 10mi each way commute at the beginning of march. Depending on route, I descend about 200-300m (in the Vancouver rain/snow/wind) in the morning and climb back up in the evening.

I'm only just getting through the other side of it - I was knackered for a month with an apetite that I've not had since I was much younger. I have been very fit for cycling in the past, so it came back fairly quickly. Keep in mind that most 'experts' reccomend to increase your training load by a small percent each month (i cant remember what it is).

In my case, I reckon I jumped my average weekly output by around 70% in one go!

Stick with it!
m1ke_smith - on 31 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I used to take 2 "lunches" with me to work. One to have at 12ish and then another one an hour before setting home. I could absolutely tell a difference when i hadn't eaten much in the afternoon.

Also consider using some water tablets/powder. I use High 5 Zero's to try to keep my energy levels at a relatively normal level.

If i were you i'd just take it a lot easier on the Monday/Tuesday. Set off 5 minutes earlier and take it easy. If theres a cyclist that goes the same way why don't you see if you can cycle together for a while - you can draft etc..
Lion Bakes on 31 Mar 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I cycle pretty much the same distance as you 5 days a week plus long rides on weekend. I ride on an empty stomach in morning. Eat my lunch early in morning at work. The ride home on empty stomach. During the day I drink water till I need to pee. I use the commute for interval training 3 days, and 2 days I ride much slower. You probably just need to ride slower ot take it easier on the hillier sessions till you get fit.
Toby_W on 31 Mar 2012
In reply to m1ke_smith:

Agree, I've started using high five energy drink to keep the energy up for my commute, I've done 300 miles since last Wednesday. Although aren't the zeros just electrolight, no energy?



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