• 1st February 2010 - By greg
    I have 5 months to get my body and mind ready for the toughest challenge I have ever undertaken. Here is a rough outline of my training program for the next 5 months:February – Heavy endurance volume, light intensity

    week 3: 60 hours – 5 day sea trials trip on east coast Vancouver island

    March – Moderate endurance volume, moderate intensity

    start 20 minute LT intervals
    do two, 24 hour simulation training sessions in WiTHiN

    April – Heavy endurance volume, heavy intensity

    week 1: 48 hours – over night sea trials in Tofino, BC
    continue to build 20 minute LT level
    aside from the overnight sea trials, do a 30 hour simulation training session in WiTHiN

    May – Heavy endurance volume, moderate intensity.

    Do two back to back, 14 to 16 hours touring days outside (weather permitting – 320 km Highwood pass loop?)
    Do one 48 hour simulation training session in WiTHiN
    Taper the 20 minute LT intervals

    June – Taper volume, no intensity – RECOVER!

    Lots of outside rides, but start to taper the volume every week. No LT intervals. At least 1, 2 to 4 hour simulation training session in WiTHiN

    One of the most important aspects of my training aside from actual sea trials, is my 24 hour simulation training days. So far, I have finished two of these and I am finding that not only is the training effective – to pedal virtually non-stop for 14 to 16 hours, but I am also learning about what it will be like to LIVE in WiTHiN, and learning about what is and what isn’t working. So far, after each 24 hour session, I have walked away with a list of issues that need to be fixed, or changed, or added, etc.

    I am also experimenting with my food. This is Helen’s department, and we have experimented with a daily food package which is a single, zip-locked bag containing 5000 calories worth of fuel consisting of a dehydrated meal for breakfast and dinner, noodles for lunch, and plenty of snacks throughout the day (nuts. some candy, chocolate, granola bars, etc). A great way to increase the calorie content is to supplement the dehydrated meals with olive oil. Pedal The Ocean sponsor STAR FOODS donated 560, 20 ml sample bottles of extra virgin olive oil and this stuff works GREAT! Each ampule packs 160 calories that I can easily pour into meals. That’s a 89,600 calorie energy bomb! Not only do they make my dehydrated food taste better, but it is a very dense source of calories in the form of good, monounsaturated fats.

    I have been concerned about exactly how many calories to consume each day on my human powered trans Pacific journey. If I do the math, I conservatively calculate that after 14 hours of burning 400 to 500 calories per hour, I would be spending 5600 to 7000 calories, plus about 1500 for my daily maintenance requirements. That is a total of 7100 to 8500 calories per day. I conducted a little research to learn more about what the ocean rowers consume. It seems to range anywhere from 5000 calories to 8000. During my 24 hour simulation days, I have not yet been able to consume 5000 calories, so eating that much food each day is NOT EASY! However, I would assume that after I start stacking long training days on top of each other as i make my way to Hawaii, I will be able to consume more food. So, I’m thinking of planning on 7000 calories per day.

    The human body is an amazingly efficient machine. Theoretically, I could burn 5000 calories worth of energy dense olive oil (I said THEORETICALLY, as there isn’t enough nutrients in olive oil to live on it) in a day and create about 2000 watt hours worth of power (based on 130 watts average pedaling for 14 hours, plus living and misc energy expenditure for the remaining 10 hours). 5000 calories of olive oil is 31 small bottles which would weigh approximately 9.5 lbs (olive oil weighs 7.6 lbs per gallon). So, we could say that the human body can produce 219.5 watt hours of power at a cost of one pound of food fuel.

    Now lets compare that to my lead acid battery. It has capacity for 50 amp hours, which is 625 watt hours worth of electrical power. The battery weighs about 40 lbs. That works out to 15.6 watt hours per pound. Compare that to 219.5 watt hours per pound of food fuel for the human body! Even a state of the art lithium ion battery only offers 32 watt hours per pound.

    Fuel for a human powered machine is more than 6 1/2 times more energy dense (by weight) than the electric fuel for many man-made machines**. It would be interesting to do the same calculation with hydrogen fuel cell, and combustible fuels.

    ** I need to point out that energy densities of fuels like Hydrogen gas are theoretically far greater than fats, but our current ability to convert that energy into actual work is a very different story. The human body is pretty efficient.

  • 11 Comments to “Training and Fuel”

    • Alex on February 1, 2010

      I heard about several project about using H2 powered submiarines.

    • Frank on February 1, 2010

      Calories made easy: fats contain about 9 calories (food calories are kilocalories really) per gram. Protein and carbohydrates contain about 4. The heaviest non-energy component in food is water, but since you need water that is not such a bad thing. You also produce some water by metabolizing food, however the quantity is not enough to live on.

      Nearly all your energy production in this endeavor will be from free fatty acids (FFAs).

      When it comes to mechanical efficiency, most agree that the human body is on par with a good engine, at about 25-28% efficiency. Most power meters will use that percentage when they calculate your calorie burn.

    • Peter Raymond on February 1, 2010

      It’s easy to suggest work for others, but I think you will learn a lot on the 5 day and you might want to do another, to test everything you learn on the first. Maybe this is a little too compulsive.

      I do think it would be good to spend some time in some big breaking waves with a chase boat nearby. This will tell you if your rudder and keel are sufficient for storm duty.

      Control and speed both depend on how much weight is in the boat, but also how it’s distributed. You’ve probably looked at this, but you would like to maintain front to back weight balance as you use up your supplies.

    • PoiterH on February 1, 2010

      Lots of messages to cast adrift in those little bottles.
      ie: “Send Choclate!”

    • Bryon Howard on February 3, 2010

      Hey Greg,
      I’d like you to join me on Sat, May 29 on the Golden Triangle 1 day epic – 320Km.

      You could do Highwood Pass (320 km) on Friday, May 28 … then I’d pick you up 3:45 am on Sat – drive 2 hours to Castle Junction … and we’d be riding at 6am.

      Does the timing work?

    • Frank on February 6, 2010

      some food ideas from a fellow boater:

    • Chris Meek on February 13, 2010

      Greg – I can’t imagine burning 8k of calories a day. On average with my daily training I’m burning around 6k a day with the exception of Wed and Sat where my caloric burn is 8500. It’s strange. I’ve somehow managed to put on about 10 pounds amidst all off the training. Working to lose it to get back to race weight. It’s possible that my body has become more efficient with my workouts and not burning the same amount of calories as I used to when I first got into endurance sports. Meeting with a nutritionist to see what is up. I’m really facinated to learn how your body will cope and adapt over the journey. Good luck this Monday!

    • greg on February 14, 2010

      Chris: For ultra endurance events you could be typically burning from 400 to 500 calories an hour. For a 14 hour day, that would equal 5600 to 7000 calories. Add to that your requirements to just stay alive for the rest of the day (called ‘base metabolic rate’), which is 1624 calories for me (160 lbs, 5′ 11″ 48 yr old male) and I need 7224 to 8624 calories per day and not dip into fat stores.

      Lets say I am able to maintain a 500 calorie per hour burn rate for 14 hours per day for 50 days. That’s works out to 350,000 calories burned + 81,200 metabolic maintenance for a grand total of = 431,200 calories. If I’m consuming 7000 cals per day (350,000 calories of fuel), that would equal a deficit of 81,200 caloires. If 3000 calories = 1 pound of body fat, then I would loose 27 pounds of fat over the 50 days. Most ocean rowers loose very close to that amount.

      The problem is, I’m not sure I will have 27 pounds of fat to loose! My ‘race weight’ is 148 pounds (that’s very lean for me), and recently I’ve put on 13 pounds of muscle and fat by starting weight training again. I used to weight train, so because of muscle memory, it came back very fast. I would like to gain an additional 6 to 10 pounds before July, so I might be OK. I wonder how much energy is in muscle as opposed to fat? (as used as stored fuel in the body).

      Anyhow – sorry for rambling on. I wanted to do this math anyhow, so thanks for listening. About your own calorie issues – I would think that if you are certain that you are burning 8000 calories a day, and also certain that you are eating no more than 8000 calories, you should not be gaining weight. What I have found is that as we become more efficient at our exercize, we don’t burn as much as we think, or used to burn. Do you use SRM watts meter? You can do a pretty accurate calculation when you use your average watts produced along with your body size.

      I have also found that when I’m training hard, my appetite is huge. You don’t realize that your portion sizes are increasing and the amount of times you snack is more frequent. Over time, a few hundred additional calories per day really adds up.

      Here is a trick I use when I need to drop a few pounds before an important race, and I don’t want to dust off the exell spreadsheet to start logging my cals in/out. Everytime I feel like snacking, I eat nuts. That’s it – and I eat all the nuts I want. Nuts are calorie dense and contain plenty of the good endurance fat. But for some reason I always loose weight when I stop snacking on the carbs.

      When I qualified for Kona, I did a fat load diet 2 weeks leading up the my big race. I lost quite a bit of weight even though I was carefully taking in every single calory I needed. For some reason (not carb depletion – researchers have accounted for that), all subjects who have tried this research in research mysteriously LOST weight. Let me see if I can dig up an old blog post:

      5. Fat loading diet

      I had been reading the research on fat loading and I thought it could be especially applicable to an Ironman distance endurance event. The diet is basically 50 to 60% fat with the remainder carbohydrates and protein. You eat like this for 6 to 7 days, then 2 days of strict carb loading then compete in your endurance event. The fat loading process does 3 things:

      1. It teaches your body how to burn fat instead of carbs because there is so much fat available from your diet and so little carbs.

      2. It makes the fat more readily accessible for energy because the diet is so rich in fat that it becomes available as gobbles floating around in your muscle cells.

      3. Since you have restricted your carbohydrate intake for 6 to 7 days, when you do start eating carbs, your body super-compensates and stores more carbohydrates in the muscles that normal. This excess of fat and carbs can be used on race day.

      The research has shown an average of 4% gains on endurance and this 4% is considered a non-significant increase because it isn’t over the 1.8 standard deviations that chance would permit. However, if the 4% is consistent enough from experiment to experiment then a 4% increase could be statistically significant (not enough research yet) and 4% on an average Ironman finishing time of 11 hours is almost 30 minutes which is HUGE. Also, the endurance time interval on the experiments I have read about are all much shorter than Ironman. I believe the diet could be more effective for longer ultra endurance events.

    • Adam on March 10, 2010

      Nice post, was curious if you would permit me to link to it in a post i am currently creating for my own site?

    • Greg Kolodziejzyk on March 10, 2010

      sure adam

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