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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

How to Fuel Your Skating

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By Knowl Johnson

Tower of power foods

Tower of power foods

photo: Knowl Johnson

As you probably know, eating and drinking the right foods before training and racing dramatically improves your performance.

But just what are the right foods ... and what are the right portions ... and when should you eat them?

Answer these questions right and you go faster. Answer them wrong and you get a bellyache.

Follow these guidelines and you'll go faster, longer and stronger:

1. Give your fuel a head start.

After eating a carbohydrate-based snack, like a banana or small muffin, give your body some time to process the food before skating or training. A half an hour should be enough.

If you eat a large meal, especially with lots of protein, you'll need more time — as much as two hours — to digest your food before you start skating.

During your training or racing, you can eat energy gels, dates or even jelly beans (or drink Gatorade) to keep up your strength. But give yourself enough time to get the carbs into your system before your hard effort, like the final sprint of a race or that big hill.

I also like to have an energy gel or similar product 15 to 30 minutes before the start of a race to ensure that I’m "topped-off."

2. Match the number of calories to the size of the effort.

You need about 25 grams of simple carbohydrates (the amount in one energy gel) for every 30-45 minutes of high-intensity skating. (We actually burn much more than 25 grams of glycogen per half hour, but can only put back in and digest about 25 grams of food-carbs per 30-45 minutes.)

On the other hand, you need less fuel for recovery or long, slow skates, in which your body is more likely to use body fat as a primary energy source.

3. Get some protein in the mix.

Adding protein to a carbohydrate drink improves endurance and begins the repair-recovery process while you’re still skating. The sports drink Accelerade uses a ratio of 4:1 (four parts carbs to one part protein). You can make your own by blending a sugar-based drink with some protein powder.

4. Whenever possible, simplify.

Energy gels work well, especially for longer distances. But they must be taken with adequate water. For training or racing, make sure you have enough water for the number of gels you’ll use. Follow each gel with a few sips of water and always drink 24-30 ounces of water per hour of racing or training.

When skating shorter distances, try filling your water bottle with a carbohydrate drink. I like using the 8oz or 10oz flask-type bottles that runners use. They’re less bulky and, due to their smaller capacity, are lighter than cycling water bottles.

5. Be your own guinea pig.

Different skaters respond differently to the same foods and fluids. Use your training time to find out what works best for you. What works during training will also work during racing.  And remember to avoid experimenting with unfamiliar foods and drinks on race day.

Fuel well and skate fast!

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eddy matzger in shanghaiKnowl Johnson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and sports coach in New York City. His first inline skate race was a 10K in NYC’s Central Park in 1990. He races in the pro masters division for the Empire Speed team. (photo by Mohamed Ariba)

Knowl's page on the Skater Network




Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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