I was keen to get back from work early to go to this lecture at the cycleshak to see what magic potions I could take to make me run faster and further but was under no illusions that the real secret was in a healthy diet throughout the day and anything extra would have a small effect but worth taking anyway.
So with a lower turnout than usual Barry started to talk about supplements to take every day and not specific to training. All the usual such as:
A multivitamin. 1 per day but try and get the ingredients to be food based. i.e non-synthetic. A good make is Solgar apparently.
Fish oils. Omega 3 tablets are big at the moment. Look out for EPA and DHA values. You should be taking between 1-3g of EPA per day. That's a lot. Zip Vit high strength omega 3 tabs have about 335mg of EPA so anything between 4 and 12 tabs per day is common. Don't take after training as its an anti inflammatory.
Vitamin D. To combat SAD caused by the lack of sunshine in this country.
Then it was on to training supplements:
Colostrum or the milk from lactating cows to be taken after training and/or before bedtime. Good for immunity and recovery.
A couple of things for interval and strength style training but not really for endurance:
Beta alanine. An acid buffer. Acid as in lactic acid which is produced during high intensity workouts. Not for me then. Has to be taken in a high dosage period then maintenance doses. Popular with the GB track cycling squad.
Creatine monohydrate. I used to take a lot of this when weight training a few years back. It is naturally produced in the body and is in red meat but in small quantities. Increases strength. I used to push one or two extra reps out when using it therefore increasing the training effect. Probably useless for ultra running although I stand to be corrected.
And finally. Race day supplements.
Caffeine 2-6mg per Kg body weight 60 minutes before the start. I've never tried taking caffeine in high strength doses apart from the odd coffee while waiting for the start. Pro plus tablets appear to be as good as anything. I'm always a bit wary of using it in case I get too much of a buzz but I've got to admit that those chocolate covered espresso beans at Longmynd Hike last year really hit the spot. Not sure of the caffeine content of those though.
Beet- it shots As used in the Haworth Hobble on Saturday. I told Barry of the effect they had. Less perceived effort for the same workload. He said that sounded about right and I should have felt stronger later on in the race which I did. Having another shot half way around was a mistake. It would have been better to take the 2 shots at the same time perhaps 2 hours before the start. The second one later on had no effect as it didn't have time to work and only upset my stomach.
An alternative but with the same effect as beetroot is Pycnogenol or pine bark. The key to both this and beetroot is that they increase production of nitric oxide which helps dilate the blood vessels increasing blood flow and in turn speeding up oxygen transportation. Reminds me of this which the cage fighters use. A more extreme use of nitric oxide.
Then it was on to more of the usual stuff like gels and drinks. Barry went on to read all the ingredients lists from all the gels in the shop and came to the conclusion that all they contain are:
and sometimes caffeine
My recent rhubarb and custard torq gel feast was all well and good but at over £1 a gulp can be a bit extravagant for every day use. For race day convenience they are great but the same effect can be had from making your own from water, honey and a pinch of salt. I feel an experiment coming on and like the look of the gel bot for carrying the mixture. Another thing of note was the 2:1 maltodextrin-fructose mix which is mooted as a wonder mixture by the likes of high-5 and torq. It basically increases the amount of carbs that can be taken in by the body by using the 2 types going in 2 separate ways.
All in all, not much more than I didn't already know. I suppose when you first start training these are the things that you first look at to improve performance. Caffeine will be the next thing I think I will try but I can't help but wonder, does it all really matter. Joss Naylor never bothered with this kind of thing and could kick all our arses. Saying that the talks are aimed at cyclists who do tend to get more technical about things. All interesting stuff though.