I read somewhere that women have about two hours of glycogen stores and men have about three hours. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t advise women or men to workout that long without fueling.
Hydrating and nutrition are a huge component of any endurance sport, and I can tell you from firsthand experience, if you do it wrong, it can wreck you. And I don’t just mean during your races either – it can wreck your day or even your week.
Like everything else, you can find all kinds of opinions on the topic, so here’s mine.
I never feel the need to do anything special to prepare for a workout that lasts an hour or less. Your body should have plenty of fluids, electrolytes and glycogen to get you through that workout, as long as you’re taking in some fluids (water or sports drink). However, I will always hydrate and fuel workouts longer than 90 minutes.
While your body should have enough nutrients to survive the workout the question is how big of a hole are you digging and how long will it take to work your way out of it. Getting too far behind on fluids and fuel can compromise your ability to recover which can totally mess with your workouts in the following days.
Since there are so many good options out there for hydrating and fueling, I’ll leave it up to you to find what works for you, but I don’t have an overreliance on highly processed fluids or fuel. Sure, I’ll use sports drinks and gels to fuel my workouts but they’re not food! In fact, I really like real food on my longer bike rides. PB&J is perfect for that. A friend of mine actually makes salted baby potatoes. YUM!!!
Hydrate and fuel on your longer workouts and you’ll recover faster and prepare you for more quality work.
See you at the races!