On Diet and Training

by J. Pike  

Before you do anything, understand your body type.  Once you know your body type, you will be able to diet and train based on your body type.

 Body Type or Somatype 

Somatype is another term for body type. Most people have a genetic predisposition toward one specific somatype and supportive traits from a second somatype (you can have a combination of two of the somatypes but mostly comprised of one).

There are three genetic somatypes: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

Your body type is something you're born with and can't necessarily change. However, you obviously can change your dietary habits and level of physical activity to positively affect your body fat percentage. Now you know your bodytype!.  You should base an exercise plan around this and the required calories you need to sustain a healthy life.   The information below can be used as an initial guide but it is recommended that you consult a professional physician before attempting any exercise or diet. DISCLAIMER                                                                                                   .                                                                                                 

Basically there are 3 main food compounds:  Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein

FAT    There are basically two types of fat.   Saturated and Unsaturated.  The National Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association recommend that no more than 30% of calories come from fat.   Saturated fat is particularly a major risk or cause of heart disease.   Saturated fat is usually solid in form (butter) and typically derived from animals.  Unsaturated fat (healthier) is usually derived from plants and typically liquid at room temperature (corn oil).  To summarize, foods high in saturated fat are not good for you. Read the labels for the foods you eat.  If they are high in saturated fats, then you may want to consider healthier foods. Again, unsaturated fats are healthier and no more than 30% of calories should come from fat.  Athletes - In either case,  it is also important to know that athletes in training (especially during rides) should not eat foods high in fat because fat slows the conversion or digestion of carbohydrates to glycogen (fuel for muscles) and blood glucose.

CARBOHYDRATES    A compound derived from sugars and starches are converted into glycogen.  Glycogen is a primary source of energy stored in the body and consumed as energy when exercising. Glycogen is usually converted and stored as muscle glycogen (energy)  and also as blood glucose.  If these stores are not used, they are then converted to fat and stored in the surrounding tissue.  For athletes or those in training,  muscle glycogen will be exclusively used or relied upon as  primary source of energy.  As muscle glycogen declines the reliance of energy will come in most part from the glucose stored in the blood. For endurance athletes;  this very important!  Maintaining a level of activity while providing or replenishing the levels of muscle glycogen / blood glucose without compromising the time it takes to convert to energy.  This means drinking when your not thirsty and eating when you are not hungry!!! Drinking and eating while you are on the go every 10-15 minutes regardless is the key!!  This also means training your body to become somewhat efficient at eating or drinking while exercising.  By the way, the conversion to muscle glycogen takes place at a very slow rate and can be difficult to replace at a rate sufficient enough to offset the energy use by endurance consumption. It is important to get your muscle glycogen stores replenished as much as possible before starting your next ride.  Note: Also important are carbohydrates that replenish the minerals such as sodium and potassium (electrolytes) that keep your brain and muscles functioning properly (to prevent cramping, etc..)  Approx. 55% of regular diet (calories) should contain carbohydrates.

PROTEIN    Protein is mainly used for muscle tissue, growth and repair.  It is not relied upon as a primary source of energy.  Research does indicate that protein must be included in the diet to maintain the muscle mass.  10-15% of diet (calories) should contain protein.


Intense training for one bodytype may not be suitable or compatible with other bodytypes or athletes. Furthermore, athletes with similiar training bodytypes may not be compatible.  This may have alot to do with the experience and/or physical conditioning of one athlete versus another!  So.... when training, train and diet based on your bodytype and physical capability only. Not someone elses!!

Training properly is a key ingredient for success. Your workouts should have a clear purpose and, ideally, you will have a plan that you are following. It is still very important that you continue to build an aerobic foundation through longer, lower intensity training, but the focus is on a mix of intensities.

Here are some key workouts that can be a part of your plan, as well as an idea of how you might pattern your training.

  1. Overdistance (OD). You can, and probably should, do longer, overdistance rides on a road bike. You can use your mountain bike but on gentle terrain. The duration of these rides should gradually increase to 75% of the time you think your race will take or 2 hours, whichever is longer. Start with your OD ride being a manageable distance and increase the duration 10% every week or two. Intensity is low, 60-70% of your max. heart rate.
  2. Drill/Technique session on the mountain bike (D). This can be done as an easy ride and/or specific drills.
  3. Interval training mountain biking (IN). These workouts should be at a high intensity, about your anaerobic threshold (80-90% of max. heart rate). Start with a short hard effort, 1-2 min., with an equal amount of recovery. Every 2-3 weeks increase the interval length by 30 sec. to 1 min. and the rest by 1/2 that amount. Limit the length of the session to 30-45 minutes. In addition, warm-up and cool-down for 10-15 minutes. Use terrain that simulates what you will encounter on race day, if possible. Do this session once per week.
  4. Uphill training mountain biking (UP). This can be alternated weekly with #2. These workouts should be at a high intensity, at or above your anaerobic threshold (85-95% of max. heart rate). Find a steep but rideable hill or hilly, short loop. Do series of hill repeats focusing on good form. The duration of the repeat should be between 2 and 4 minutes with the recovery time equal to 1/2 the work time. Use the recovery to work on your descending technique. If you come off the bike during the repeat, run to the top of the climb with your bike. Keep the total time of this session to 30 minutes (not including warm-up and cool-down), increasing the interval length every other week.
  5. Endurance (EN). Moderate intensity (70-80% max. HR), moderate duration (45-90 minutes). Good chance to work on technique without going too hard.
  6. OR If none of the above is you, then just get the hell out and ride - Have fun somewhere!  Ride with anyone anywhere!  Its better than nothing.

Nutritional Tips

Use the OD sessions to experiment with how much PowerGel, GU, Perform, Cytomax or Endurox (whatever you are eating and drinking) to be ingesting while you ride. Start drinking within 15 minutes of the start of the ride and eating within the 1st hour of your rides. 1-2 (16 oz.) bottles of Perform per hour is a good rule of thumb, depending on the environmental conditions. 1-2 gels every 30 minutes should supply you with enough carbohydrate to keep you going strong.                                 Improving your fitness and abilities relies on your body's ability to recover from training. It is critical to replenish your energy supplies after a workout to facilitate your recovery. Eat a PowerBar or two right after you finish your training (or within 2 hours) to give your body the carbohydrates that it needs to begin rebuilding, your next workout will benefit.