While the Comrades Marathon was taking place this past weekend, 32Gi powered athlete Amy McDougall was winning two mountain bike races in two days. Amy is an extremely versatile rider; hear her recipe for success, on this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition.
Welcome to this week’s edition of 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active, David Katz; coming off the back of what was an absolutely incredible Comrades Marathon. Caroline Wostmann despite a lot of pain and dehydration she almost got there just over two kilometres to go, before Charne Bosman took her and went on for the win.
But men’s side as well; to see a Down run record. First man under 5:20, what an absolutely fantastic Comrades Marathon it was in 2016. We now shift focus because there’s plenty of stuff going on the calendar across South Africa.
One of the biggest sports and it has been for the last few years, is the sport of mountain biking. So it’s a great pleasure now to welcome our guest, and extremely versatile rider onto the show; Amy McDougall thank you for joining us.
AMcD: Thanks for having me.
DK: Amy I mean Comrades Marathon highlighted South Africa this past weekend, but you had a very good weekend as well. You went up to Mabalingwe to Lionman you won the Nissan Trailseeker, first series for sort of Gauteng.
The next day you came back to Joburg riding the around sort of the Spruit and Rooseveld Park and that area , you went and won the Hollard JUMA, so a really good weekend for you around as well.
AMcD: Yes it definitely was a good weekend in the office and loads of fun. Both days were very different to each other and super fun. Obviously very hard in their own ways but really rewarding.
Technical riding plays to Amy’s strengths
DK: We’ll talk about that difference. I mean Mabalingwe it was very savannary and there was quite a bit of climbing. It was also dry, it was flat it was a bit arid at times. Then you came back and you were in the heart of Johannesburg. Riding through some of our amazing parks and then doing these obstacles and bridges, very different. What is one of sort of your strengths? I mentioned you were quite versatile, is that what helped you made that quick transition?
AMcD: My strengths I’d say is definitely technical riding. So technical climbs and descending, and both of them were technical in each of their own ways. So I think both of them played to my strengths.
The Lionman was very flat in the beginning, so all the hard stuff was at the end and. I kinda attacked pretty early into the race so about 20 k’s in. There was a lot of flat inbetween, which I had to time trial to kind of, stay away from my competition.
Then for the second half that’s when I sort of felt more comfortable, funny enough that was when the really hard climbing and descending came. So I just capitalised on that and made sure that I could increase my time gap where I could.
Why marathon and stage races suit her better
DK: Amy tell me now I mean I’ve seen you over the last few months especially, just racing everywhere. You doing cross country, you doing marathon, you then going and doing stage races. You were at the Old Mutual joBerg2C; what do you sort of train for?
I mean what’s your focus? Do you just do all round training and then go to these different events; or does your training specifically focus on one of those areas as your sort of strength area?
AMcD: You know you can’t really focus on everything and be excellent on everything. If you only train for cross country that’s more of your sorts, sprints and power training you know for those. Cross country is basically an hour and a half flat out effort with loads of technical stuff and short, shorter effort that require a lot more sort of punchy power.
So if you just train for that, you won’t really have the endurance that is needed for stage racing in marathons. So you know if you train for marathons and stage racing that’s a lot more endurance stuff, with a lot of intensity as well. But more longer hours in the sun, which then affects your punchiness. So you won’t have that really aggressive power for the cross country racing.
So I focus on marathon and stage racing and really use cross country to compliment that training and to mix it up. Practice my technical skills up again and really just for good fun and good training and to see how, how I can do.
How Amy structures her training diet
DK: Well it’s great to see you get onto the podium at the SA Marathon Champs in Clarens in one of many fine efforts this season. Last weekend two victories in a row, arguably your best. But looking at that training and relation to sort of diet; so if marathon is your focus, how do you structure your diet around your training?
AMcD: I’ve tried almost everything, I think there’s so many different diets out there. A lot of them will cut out one macro nutrient, which I’ve tried. Or those like the Banting diets and all of that. But I’ve come to the conclusion that you really just need to eat clean and get the right, the right amount of protein and carbs and fats.
So especially the carbohydrates I focus on getting enough of that in so in order to build your muscles. So that’s really important and then carbs I make sure everything is pretty much natural. So mainly gluten free, but you do need to get those in it’s extremely important. Especially depending on how much you training.
You’ll have more carbs in the morning and it’s very important to keep the glycogen stores up. Then protein later on in the day for recovery. So it’s nutrient timing a lot of it.
Then less carbs on your resting days but always making sure to keep especially the carbs to keep your glycogen stores up. I think a lot of people just discount how much you need carbs. Just like enough, enough fruits and vegetables and everything I think you just need everything just keep it clean.
Keeping it clean in the lead up to a race
DK: No good balance for sure and especially as a mountain biker. I mean the amount of calories you chewing up especially with all your different training. It’s important to keep those levels up with a good balanced diet and not neglecting certain things.
I wanna move on, Mark Wolff often talks into pre-event and coming up to a big event starting to cut certain things. For instance caffeine, stimulants, you then have more benefits when you use it in race and you talked about eating clean.
You know all of us we might eat well, but you know the odd sweet or chocolate creeps into our diet. Are these kinds of things you do try and eradicate in the lead up to a race?
AMcD: Mainly I do, every now and again I’ll have a piece of chocolate or something like that. But I do also like it seasonally. So eat really clean in the lead up to a race.
Towards joBerg2C, probably about three months before that I almost had nothing. So no chocolates or cake not even much gluten. I’m a big coffee fan so I don’t cut that out of my diet. I’m very sensitive to caffeine so I won’t like I won’t really cut that out before an event. But that’s just like a personal thing.
DK: Amy looking at mountain biking and cycling, unlike running you know you’ve got the luxury being able to probably eat a little bit more the morning of an event. What would be your favourite pre-ride or pre-race morning meal?
AMcD: I love future life. So I’ll try and get the meal in about two and a half, to three hours before the race. So a good bowl of future life and maybe a banana. Then I might have sort of bar or something closer to the time, but I don’t usually feel the need to have that. I like to have a more of an empty stomach as I start to race.
Tips on how to fuel in a marathon mountain bike race
DK: Now the race itself being on a mountain bike, take Lionman; you full out, you’ve got 20k’s fast, you gotta push. All of a sudden you climbing. You gotta be very conscious of your diet, when you eating and when you drinking. Looking at marathon and maybe a single day at this stage race, I know it would change, how would you structure your diet in a race?
AMcD: I look at the profile so let’s use Lionman as an example. It was really flat in the beginning and all the tough stuff at the end. I hate stopping at water table it waste time and all of that.
So I drank pretty conservatively in the first half, then made sure that I had enough for the second half. At Magalies Monster last week I just had to fill up my bottle stores and it was really hot. As far as water is concerned I try to not fill up at all during the race. But if I have to then I will cos hydration is important. But you also don’t wanna really stop.
Then with eating, I have about a gel an hour, I like to do that. Everybody is so different you know. As a piece of advice you need to keep carbs coming in, sugar coming in constantly, what form you get that in is up to you. I like gels and I love the sports chews that 32Gi has. Because it’s really easy to eat. They don’t like get stuck in your mouth and they really easy to get down.
But then like stage racing I try to cut down on the gels that’s just it gets a bit much for your stomach. If it’s like seven days in a row of gel eating. So then bars are really nice like more natural bars. 32Gi also has really nice they call them the food bar.
They have like dates and nuts and a lot of protein and that kind of thing. So for longer events where you not breathing too hard. To get some good food down, then a bar like that is really good.
DK: One thing with those gels a mistake some people make is taking in hydration. Those gels are great but don’t leave them on a sort of dehydrated stomach, take liquid with them.
Amy looking at the liquid that you take in; are you just drinking water? I know 32Gi has got both an Endure and a Race drink. Or are you mixing one bottle water and sort of one bottle with something else in?
AMcD: For my training I don’t use juice, but in racing it’s really important. Because I do struggle to eat in races. So I like to get my carbs and my energy in through the drink. Also it’s a more steady income of calories and your carbs. So it keeps your blood sugar stable and your energy levels stable. And then I actually love a coke. Half coke half water for my last bottle that’s always really nice.
Still to come and giving skills training
DK: Amy, I mean what are we into, we into sort of June now. Still quite a long year you already had quite a busy racing calendar. What’s still on the cards for you this year?
AMcD: The national marathon series is definitely a focus as well as the Nissan races. Then a few stage races as well, maybe Wine2Whales, I haven’t got an entry there, but would be nice to do. So there’s definitely enough coming up, it’s like there’s a race every weekend which is great. But main focus would be those national Ashburton series races.
DK: Well spoilt for choice in South Africa we are indeed. Amy one of the best when it comes to being a Jack of, or a Jill of all trades in South Africa. Amy McDougall thank you very much, there’s some really valuable advice in there if you not sure how to get your diet.
If you don’t get it quite right there’s some great examples that came out of that from Amy. But thanks for joining us again on 32Gi Sports Nutrition…Amy just lastly sorry before I sign off. If people wanna follow you on social media, I know you do quite a bit, you also do I think you do skills training or something?
AMcD: Yes I do skills training, my group classes are called ride like a girl. So I really focus on ladies, we get a nice group of ladies together. I do a two day skills clinic. So next one’s coming up on the 25th and the 26th of June. Then the next one’s on the 9th and 10th of July. But that’s a real passion for me is teaching, teaching people and bringing up woman’s cycling as well.
DK: How do people get hold of you if they wanna come to one of those clinics and can they follow you on social media?
DK: Well fantastic, once again Amy McDougall great to see how well you doing and great two victories this past weekend. From myself David Katz, Mr Active we’ll be back with 32Gi Sports Nutrition next week.