Newcrest Orange Challenge
Karmea Founder & Head Coach
Meet Sarah Anne
Originally from the UK, Sarah Anne now calls Australia home, splitting her time with a toe dipped in the ocean of Sydney’s northern beaches, and her heart grounded in the breath-taking scenery of the Snowy Mountains. As a qualified Cycling Australia and Triathlon Australia coach, she is the founder and head coach of endurance training company, Karmea, working to support athletes in their sporting adventures.
Sarah Anne is an accomplished endurance athlete that laps up mental and physical challenges, the longer the better! Her triathlon and duathlon career success, has seen her podium across all distances from sprint to Ironman, and race at both the European and World Championship events.
Cycling quickly became her passion and strength. Sarah Anne built up her racing experience by racing as part of a women’s team in her first cycling season, competing in multi stage races, time trials and 250km grand fondos. Sarah Anne is part of the record breaking women’s endurance cycling team The Veloroos, who won the Race around Ireland in 2017, smashing the course record by 20 hours and placing 4th overall.
Equally at home on the trails as on the road, she has completed 100km ultra trail marathons, 100km and 24 hour mountain bike races, 24 hour adventure racing, and represented Australia at the Xterra World Championships in Maui.
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Preparation is everything
Taking on a long distance cycling event like the Newcrest Orange Challenge is no small undertaking, but we promise it’s hugely rewarding. Alongside the distance and elevation you will cover on the day, the nature of the rural roads will take its toll on you mentally and physically. Preparation is everything. Entering the event is your first stage but how do you go about tackling 170kms in the saddle?
Building a strong foundation with a focused preparation phase in your training program is essential. This phase is key to preparing you mentally and physically for the training load your event requires. As exciting as it is to have a training goal, many athletes ramp up too quickly and this can lead to burn out and injury.
Athletes that are new to this distance or this type of event will need a longer prep phase to allow their bodies to adapt to the new physiological implications of training. Experienced athletes require a shorter but still focused prep phase to encourage the body back into rhythmic training after the ‘off season’ or in transition time between key events.
Planning your preparation phase – What sort of sessions should you be including?
Look at specific technique work for the event and its unique challenges. Do you need to work on your bunch riding skills, your hill climbing? Or back to basics like gear selection and cornering? Work with a coach, use video feedback, attend workshops. Add in key sessions that are purely focused around form. There is no magic pill for this stuff, practice does indeed make perfect!
Strength work is an often overlooked aspect of many cyclist’s training. We aren’t talking lifting heavy here, this is specific strength work to increase power and performance on the bike. Executed correctly, strength sessions will help build foundational strength, increase endurance, prevent injury and improve muscle balance and recruitment.
Work on key muscle groups both in focused isolated movements, and also in dynamic functional movement patterns that simulate cycling. Squats are great for strength, but cycling uses alternating legs for power, so look to bring elements that promote this pattern.
Yep, that old chestnut! It just won’t go away will it…and for good reason. We’ve seen athletes improve their performance just by building a greater range of motion into their bodies. Chances are you already know where your tightness and problem areas are, so during this prep phase, take time to pay them all some additional attention.
Stretch every day, working on a different specific area on different days. Make friends with your foam roller! Start to build in a regular stretch routine now so that when you step up training, it’s part of what you do.
Your prep phase is the time to NAIL any existing injuries. We are always surprised at how many athletes up their distance and enter training programmes when they are still nursing injuries from previous races. The load on your body is not going to get any lighter once you start training, so get those niggles addressed during your prep phase. We use one key rule of thumb, always treat your injury even when you don’t feel pain. There is a clear imbalance in your body and this can take many years to address. It can rear its head again once you up the training.
Start dialling in your training, adding in sessions at low to moderate intensity and distance. Remember we are getting the body ready to start training, it can take some convincing!
Be patient, don’t go hard or fast too soon as this will risk burn out later down the road. Let go of holding pace, and chasing Strava segments, learn to just feel into each session.
Nutrition & Hydration
Work on getting back into a good rhythm with your food, eating before training when required, during sessions if the duration is sufficient enough, and getting your recovery nutrition and hydration on the go after each workout.
Remember the quality of output from your body is affected by the quality of everything you put into it. That includes not only your physical training, but also the quality food and hydration you refuel with.
So, if you are ready to step up to a very amazing 170kms of cycling, consider the preparation phase in your training before you start to layer on too much intensity. Think about this as the important planning phase of a great adventure. How well you prepare in this leg will determine the outcome on race day.
Nutrition – the key to success
There’s nothing worse than training your heart out for an event to have it to all fall apart on the day due to poorly planned nutrition. It’s something we see all too often. The kilometres are in the bank, the hills have been climbed, your bike is tuned, and you have a race plan. But how well have you planned your fuel?
Nutrition isn’t something you should just think about for race day. Training for a long-distance event like the Newcrest Orange Challenge requires multiple training sessions a week, along with big bike rides at the weekends. How you fuel before, during and after training will decide the quality of your training, your recovery from sessions, and ultimately how well you perform on event day.
Our bodies are built to move, and this requires us to eat regularly. Add training for a 170kms bike ride, and suddenly the grocery bills start to increase! As your exercise levels rise, the energy you burn also increases. Being prepared is key as you will reach for the closest thing to hand if you are hungry, and often make poor food choices which won’t aid your recovery from sessions.
Keep your food choices clean, as unprocessed as possible and low in refined sugars. Your plate should have a good mix of clean carbs, simple protein and good fats.
Key things to keep in mind are:
- Carbohydrates are essential for energy output.
- Protein is essential for recovery and cell regeneration.
- Fat is essential for transportation of nutrients around the body.
Breakfast is a key component on heavy training days and race day. On a morning when you have a session of 60 minutes or less, you can get away with having a small amount of carbs pre-training such as a banana or slice of toast. Longer sessions require something more substantial.
Pre-race you should eat a normal breakfast 2 hours prior to your start time. You can also top up on electrolytes prior to the race. 15 – 20mins before your race, add in 20-30 grams of carbs – a banana or sports bar are good options.
The week prior to your event, you will decrease your training load. Eat normally as this naturally starts to build your glycogen/energy stores ready for race day.
Get used to eating on the bike, solid foods are essential. Aim to get your body weight in kgs in grams of carbs per hour, i.e. 70kgs = 70g per hour. If you only like water when you train, then all your carbs need to come from food.
Carbs can be in the form of sports drink, bars, bananas, chews, gels etc. Test out what works for you in training and stick with it. Don’t leave it until race day. Find out the nutrition that will be provided at the event and buy some to try.
Break things down into robotic eating. Set an alarm to bleep on your sports watch every 10 mins to remind you to eat. Alternate food and water together, sports drink on its own so you don’t overload your stomach. Play with one hour on liquid nutrition (gels, water, sports drink), one hour on solids (bars, chew, water).
If you feel sick, then just miss that 10min feed and take on some water. You can also add salt tablets into your racing and longer sessions. This will take care of electrolytes which are essential to your body’s ability to stay hydrated. Dehydration greater than 2% will have a detrimental effect on your body to perform during sport.
Recovery is a key part of your training. Hitting the café post ride is great, but make sure that latte is accompanied by some solid food. Aim for your body weight kgs in grams of carbs within 45mins of stopping exercise. This meal should be a good balance of proteins, carbs and fat.
The larger in volume and intensity the session, the more important your post training fuel becomes. Protein is a key component of recovery, so whatever you eat, make sure it contains a protein source. Supplement this if needed with a good quality protein powder which you can have in a shake with some berries, banana, oats etc as soon as you get back from training.
Continue to drink water throughout the day post training, adding in a bottle of electrolytes if you have sweated heavily. If you feel sluggish a few hours after training it can be dehydration.
As with any event, adapting to the conditions on the day are essential. If it’s hot you will sweat more, meaning the intake of fluid needs to be increased. Cold may cause you to sweat less but we can still loose substantial moisture as we wear more.
Bad weather conditions on the day could see you out on the road for longer than planned. Think about this when you look at the forecast for your race. Pack that extra sports bar!
If you have to stop to fix a mechanical, remember to eat. We’ve seen athletes stop for 10mins by the side of the road and miss a window for fuel, then try to ‘make up’ time on the bike by riding harder. Disaster strikes soon after.
Every athlete we work with is slightly different, nutrition is a very personal thing. Find out what works for you by testing it during training. Be prepared for the challenges that face you on race day both from a physical and a nutritional perspective. With any endurance event, be ready to adapt and adjust your sails as the race unfolds.
This article is meant as a general guide only. If you have any concerns over your fuel during training and racing, we recommend you contact a qualified sports nutritionist who can work with you on your personal requirements.
A special thanks to Sarah Anne Evans and Karmea
Sarah Anne Evans is the head coach for Karmea. She is an established triathlon and endurance coach with experience helping athletes at all levels achieve their goals, and a background of 15 years of race experience over various distances and disciplines. Sarah Anne founded Karmea based on principles that create a more complete and rounded athlete, capable of achieving anything they set their minds to.
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