Monday, April 11, 2016

Camping with just a cooler

Ride food and what to eat.... one of the more difficult issues I've had to face during my endurance career.  While on a normal day to day basis, I'm pretty much blessed with an iron stomach and a love for a variety of foods and spices, during a ride I have to be careful.  My digestive tract gets easily offended and quite picky about what 1) looks appealing and 2) is allowed to enter without repercussions.  I'm allergic/sensitive to onions, such a common ingredient that makes it nearly impossible for me to eat the meals prepared by management on site.  They hide in marinades, sauces, dressings, etc. and are difficult to avoid, so I plan to bring ALL my meals.  Also, I'm generally solo and want to eat something with minimal fuss and effort involved.  While I may occasionally drag out my Coleman camp stove, I would very much prefer not to.  Thus, for me, I have perfected how to eat out of a cooler for the entire weekend with good REAL food that's both nutritious and easy.  Just bring some paper plates, napkins, and assorted flatware.  Here's what I did this past weekend:

  • Breakfast 
    • Greek yogurt with walnuts and fresh blueberries, prepared at home in small container with resealable lid
    • Iced coffee - creamy and a little sweet is how I take mine.  I actually really like cold coffee and drink it during the warmer months of the year, so don't mind having it on ride mornings as well.  I prefer to make at home but will drink some of the store-bought brands as well.
    • Protein drink/shake - one of those high protein meal replacement type drinks.  I like a non-dairy option.  My current go-to brand has been Muscle Milk (ironically non-dairy) with 20 grams of protein.  This is a MUST for me in the morning and the one thing I make sure to finish before I start.
  • Lunch / During Ride - sent out in a small cooler with an ice pack to the vet check if needed, I KNOW I won't eat all of this, but I like having options of "what looks good now" to pick from
    • Waldorf-style chicken salad (prepared at home) and then put on bread morning of ride. Can also eat with crackers or a more hearty chip if desired.  I really like mine with diced celery, apples, dried cranberries, a touch of spicy honey mustard and a dash of curry powder.  Something about this blend just sits well with my stomach and I'm craving it by the time I get there.  In the past I've done a sub-sandwich prepared the day before and those went down really well too. Personally I don't have luck with PB&J - it's too sweet for my stomach and hard for me to chew and swallow.
    • V8 juice drink or some sort - Full of good electrolytes and I love both the original tomato version or the fruit blends they have.  I've been crushing on the V8 Energy peach mango lately.  Goes down super well and gives me a little boost of caffeine.  
    • Hard boiled egg - Pre-peel and throw it in a baggie with some salt and pepper
    • Antipasto assortment - fancy way of saying assorted baggies with some pickles, olives, cheeses, meats, etc.  I keep things separate and then grab and mix what appeals at the time.  
    • Iced tea - if I have time, I'll make up some mint tea at home before the ride.  It's so refreshing for some reason, almost like brushing your teeth!  ;)  And mint can help settle an upset stomach.  If not mint, I'm not picky about other types.  Just something to break up the water / sport drink that I have on the saddle.  I don't drink much caffeine during the day normally, just a coffee in the morning, so between the V8 and tea definitely provide a perk.
  • Dinner and Other Assorted Snacks
    • Rotisserie chicken - I'll buy a pre-cooked one at the store and then cut it up at home into serving sizes (legs, thighs, breast, etc) and put them all in a large ziploc bag.  Cold chicken is another of those things that some people might not like, but seems totally "normal" to me.  If you like yours warmed, it's typically not difficult to find a trailer with a running generator and beg to use the microwave for a minute.
    • Store-bought fresh veggie assortment - even comes with ranch to dip; or a green salad of some sort
    • Store-bought fruit and cheese assortment - look for ones designed as a single-serving for kids' lunches or similar.  Could prepare at home as well if you wanted but these are pretty inexpensive.
    • Hummus dip with pretzel chips
    • Some sort of crunchy chip and/or cracker
    • Whatever I didn't eat a lunch
If you can, bring two coolers, one for drinks and one for food and keep the food cooler "dry" by using ice blocks (large frozen water containers).  It helps keep things from getting soggy and since you won't be in/out of it as much, the items should stay cold.  Make sure to pack plenty of water, some sports drinks, a few adult beverages ;) and you should be set!  Do you have any ride food staples you just can't do without?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Endurance Conditioning for the Working Person (schedule by Laura Peck)

Laura Peck shared this "real-life" conditioning schedule with the North American Green Beans Endurance Group on Facebook.  I really like it a lot and it's very similar to what I try to do with my own horses when legging up for the season, or when starting a new mount.  Let's face it, work and life happens and clearing time in your schedule can be a challenge.  YES! You can successfully condition your horse to complete not only Limited Distance rides, but even 50's and 100's on this type of schedule.  Even non-Arabs.  Been there, was able to do that, even have the Tevis Buckle to say so.  ;)  Please note, I personally wouldn't recommend RACING on this type of schedule.  Rather, you need to be able to rate your horse, neither of you get "race brain", and have a sensible finish somewhere in the back 1/2 of the pack.

Here's Laura's schedule:

Weeks 1-4: Start doing 8 mile loop in 1.5 hours.  Each Sunday cut the time down until by the 4th week I'm near 1 hour.

Weeks 5-6:  Add 4 miles.  Now up to 12 each Sunday.  Do it in 2 hours or so.

Weeks 7-8:  Up it by another 4.  Now at 16 miles.  Have a VC (vet check) break in between the 8 mile loops.  Begin checking recovery HR (heart rate) time (magic number is 60 for me) adjust pace accordingly.  Faster if they come in at 60, slower if it takes them over 10 minutes to hit 60.  This is prior to any cool down.

Weeks 9-11:  If all if going well - I add a third 8 mile loop.  So for these three weeks, I'm doing a practice LD (Limited Distance) every Sunday.  I'm checking recovery times at the two trailer breaks, making sure they eat/drink well, and adjusting pace/electrolytes accordingly.  Also finding out what snacks and clothes work for me as well.

Week 12-on:  I back off.  Do 20+ mile training ride 2-3 times each month, with a short one thrown in - or skip one.  At this point, if you just do a 20+ mile ride every other week - they'll stay in shape.

My own personal adaptations of this would probably be to do less of the longer rides (24 miles) but add more difficulty (sand, hills) or a faster pace to the ~16 mile rides.  I find I'm happiest conditioning around 15-20 miles.  To me, that distance just feels like "enough" where the horse was stressed enough to either gain or maintain current fitness.  Once you have reached Weeks 9-11, I would give the horse an easy weekend, and then they should be in shape to easily accomplish a back-of-the-pack LD ride.  Then do 1-2 rides of that distance a month (either in competition, or another ~20 mile training ride).  Once you've been able to stick to that for 3 months or so, you both should be ready for a slow 50.  With an already legged up horse coming back from the off season - I'll pretty much follow the schedule above for weeks 1-8, maybe mix in a longer ride around 20 miles once or twice, and then go do a slow 50.
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