Nutritional Lessons Learned in Training

Yeah me! After three attempts (in 3 years) I have finally completed TRADITIONAL BASE Mid Volume. A bit of background, I’m 53 YO and started cycling to lose weight back in 2012 and transitioned into performance cycling and racing (road & CX).

Year 1 was going good but ended near the end with overreaching induced illness. It was a month later when the idea of throwing over did not instill fear, loathing, and terror into me and then it was time to go on my ski trip.

Year 2 was again going good but then at the end of month 2 I transitioned to Sweet Spot Mid volume and that was a disaster. I would get through a week and then wake up on Monday/Tuesday feeling like I was coming down with the flu. I would skip a couple workouts and get fully recovered. Only to repeat the cycle and then in block two – I got sick – not once but twice (and then COVID started to cancel races).

Now in year 3 of this business I made it through, not 100% I missed two workouts – one in month 1 and a second in month 2, but month 3 was 100% on. When it was apparent I wasn’t going to be able to make up the workout I promptly forgot about it and sent it downstream.

What was the difference? I attribute it to nutrition and reduced concern about weight loss. Listening to the TH podcast I noticed a frequently recurring theme of discussion. That theme is best summed up by Amber’s refrain to NOT USE TRAINING as a vehicle to weight loss (well, if that is your sole goal have at it but for most of us that isn’t the goal). Just as I was starting this up this year I posted here asking about fasted rides and if there is a reason not to do it. I tried one or two and then the podcast piqued my interest with training my GI system to take on carbs. So instead of going skinny on carbs during my sessions I started to experiment with car intake and in a matter of 3 rides I was at 100 gms/hour. Typically one gel and two bottles of (2 scoops) Skratch and water. The gut was mildly grumpy at first about that much carbs but dealt. The only problem that regimen has is on long rides the amount of liquids forces regular 2-3 minute breaks on me (then I started using gels over drink).

I have always strove to eat good quality foods and for the most part I’m able to do that. We try to cook big batches on the weekends and try to do it all as homemade as possible. With lots of fruits, pulses, and vegetables.

Then when the session was over – I strove to keep my LoseIt caloric budget even (and that is set for 1/2 pound per week loss). In the past, if LoseIt figured I was 1500 calories in deficit I would shrug it off (actually, celebrate it). This year that meant more yogurt, more fruit, more nuts, etc. That is working too, I just had a whoosh – dropping my weight range from 210-214 to 207-210.

When I added full fueling to my routine, I noticed a drop in RPE on the rides. I noticed I was able to reach deep and find the energy to perform those late sprints or speed drills.

In short, this is another N=1 testimonial on the importance of nutrition and fueling your workouts!


Hearing success stories like these is what we live for here at TR! What an accomplishment! So cool to hear about how fueling helped you nail Traditional Base this year. Thank you for sharing this!


Amber thank you for all the podcast info on training and fueling, like @framness I’ve consciously started fueling during workouts and it really made a difference post workout and downstream.

Congrats, thanks for sharing, and good job!

1 Like

So awesome! :raised_hands:t2:

1 Like

Thank you, yeah the fueling has really enabled my body to deal with the training. I just started sweet spot low volume and my first workout has me wondering if I undertested – but I’ll stay put and and adjust by adding workouts and intensity increases during workouts.


Amber, when you swam in college, did you fuel your workouts at all? New to TR forum/podcast…I am mostly a swimmer, but I ride 2-3x a week for cardio. Podcast was recommended to me, and I’m taking the nutrition advice and applying it to swimming.


Fuel for and during the workouts.

How fat can wreck your diet.

1 Like

Hey there! This is a great question. First let me preface my response with a huge caveat: the science of fueling has advanced considerably since I was swimming in college! For pool sessions, I would make sure I had a good pre-workout meal with plenty of carbohydrate and a recovery drink with protein and CHO. (Anyone remember Jogmate? Yeah we had that for recovery.) Unlike my workouts on the bike now, back then I would not eat solid foods during a swim session. I would have a bottle of mix on the deck with CHO and electrolytes, but my intake was nowhere near what it is now for sessions on the bike. I don’t doubt that my RPE would have benefitted from more CHO fueling, but swimming has different constraints than cycling. For one, you spend most of the time horizontal and some of the time upside down, which makes eating solids less than comfortable. I also have congenital gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which made that particularly bad in my individual case. As with all of this, your best bet is to experiment and see what works for you. Try changing one thing at a time, and be consistent with the change for 1-2 weeks to give your body a chance to adjust. For example, if you’re used to not fueling at all, and you want to try fueling during your pool sessions, try adding something small and easy, like one gel every hour, or one bottle with mix. See how you feel in terms of RPE, physical/GI comfort (is the gel easier than fluid due to less sloshing in your stomach?), etc during and after your session. You can do the same thing with your pre-workout meal, and your post-workout recovery. It’s best to stick with just one change at a time, so you know what is likely the cause of any changes in how you feel. After a week or two you can decide whether the change was helpful, or if you need to try something different.


I’ve started fueling my swims, primarily just by having a solid brekkie instead of going fasted or with very little in the stomach (I still swim primarily in the morning). Over the last few weeks I’ve increased my intra-workout carbs to about 75g per hour. Slowly, my gut is handling it better. All liquid. The only thing I have to be careful of is not taking huge swigs all at once right before or during hard efforts. I am going to experiment with chomps and gu’s as well, but I am in aviation which is to say unemployed, so I’m keeping it cheap with DIY bottles.

Long story short, I was a D1 distance swimmer…our Sat am practices were 4 hours in the pool. I think the most I ever ate was 2 bottles of gatorade and a granola bar. Might’ve had toast for brekkie before. I wish I could go back to my days as a 20 year old 20-hour a week athlete with my knowledge of nutrition and recovery. Undoubtedly I would have been faster than I was. I’m 30 now, and getting back into swim shape, and being better about my nutrition is helping. I’m back in decent shape, and can go repeats on 1:20 all day long. I have time goals, and looking at USMS Open Water nats this summer to set some new open water PR’s.

Thanks for responding, really loving the podcast!