Tag Archives — Nutrition

Thanksgiving Survival

With the upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving and the American Thanksgiving not too far off (not to mention Pumpkin Latte Season …) it is a great time to share ideas for keeping your nutrition and fitness goals on track this fall.  Feel free to put yours in the comments below.

  1. Focus on the social side of events. Whether that is a coffee date with a friend or family Thanksgiving, you are there for the people.
  2. Don’t drink your calories – Cliche advice, I know, but it is unlikely your Thanksgiving memories revolve around alcohol or a glass of sweetened-milk disguised as coffee.
  3. Exercise that day – You will feel healthier if you move that day. Try the new Anywhere Core Video if you are unsure of what to do.
  4. Bring a dessert that fits in your goals – fresh fruit, paleo styled recipes like Apple Crumble (with nuts, not grain) and my favorite the Paleo Pumpkin Pie made with nuts, dates, and pumpkin. You could also bring main dishes or variations on parts of the meal you like. Molly at has a few of our favorite dishes including Pico-de-Gallo, Guac, and Kale Chips
  5. Skip the white buttered-bun and any foods you don’t like that are not great choices anyhow (ie. don’t add gravy if that isn’t your big holiday treat)

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Season (this is my very rough directions – a full on recipe is linked below) 

a) in bowl slice/mash dates (with a bit of water if not fresh Medjool dates) then add 2 cups pecan (or choice nut flour) … pecan seemed to work better and not burn vs. almond/walnut mix of past
b) put in the oven for 5-10 min to ‘dehydrate’ or if you are kooky and have a dehydrator … do your thing
c) while dehydrating make the filling by combining about 2 cups pure pumpkin puree, 3 eggs, a lot of cinnamon unless you don’t like cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and nutmeg if you have it (i didn’t!) . Some maple syrup sweetens further to your taste, The dates and pecans add a fair bit of sweetness. 
    = For true chefs = a recipe that is close

Race Leadville Faster… Without Training More

Unfortunately doing well at any endurance race is not as simple as simply training for hours and hours. This is especially true for the grueling, Leadville 100-mile MTB race, which takes place at over 10,000 feet of elevation for almost the whole race and involves a lot of climbing.

Luckily most of us are limited in how much we could ever pedal in a week so the fact that success at these races involves something more than training for hours is a GOOD THING. Our fitness is a big part of the equation but what FITNESS is and how we apply our fitness through preparation, equipment, position and other methods will determine how well our big day goes.

My focus in this article is largely on everything BUT pedaling or fitness (although I do make plans to help you with that), because to me, the regular ‘desk’ athlete with kids, a job, 2 dogs and a mortgage likely has a different event to take on then the pro who can perform a month of high-volume training, on top of a mountain and do quite well.

Be A Student of the Race

The Leadville 100 MTB Trail race or other Endurance Bike Races tend to have huge followings and so there is a lot of content out there. When I signed up in 2011, I was looking for every resource (Leadville Pictures,  Leadville video, race storiesStudies) to help guide my preparation. Now, this may seem weird, as I am a supposed to be a Pro MTB racer and a coach with a university degree, but the fact that Leadville is a different event remains true and my lack of Leadville, or even 100-miler, experience had me scared. Experience the race before you get there via media and then by simulating terrain.


Get Better at Riding Fast Down Hills

Leadville has 12,000-14,000 feet of climbing … Yes, you should be light and fit to get up those hills, but dragging your brakes down 14,000 feet of downhill is costing you time too. Practice on technical trails and also on event-specific double track, ATV trail and gravel road and your average speed will go up considerably. Being comfortable on technical trails will make the Leadville double track and road much easier to do while fatigued. Check out Bike Skills Project videos on ready position and/or attack position (basically standing up on the bike)are key places to start.

Get Ready for the Altitude, But Don’t Freak Out

If you can go to a few camps to simulate your race pace at even moderate altitude, that will help. If you accept that it will be a bit harder and not exactly the same as home, it is part of the challenge and many people do no altitude adaptation and do fine thanks to good fitness and great pacing.

Altitude tents and devices such as SpiroTiger can be an asset in maximizing your adaptation to altitude and enhancing your respiratory system to help you be more comfortable with the increased breathing requirements at altitude, and while racing/riding/existing.  Both devices can be rented from many companies.

I also like getting clients to practice breathing through their noses during their day and while on rides (start slow and breathe deep with BELLY). You should find you can eventually build your wattage while nose breathing towards ‘tempo’ (about Leadville pace) AND (in my opinion) this first experience with restricted breathing helps you be psychologically ready in Leadville.

Beta-Alanine and Sodium Phosphate-loading are two potentially beneficial supplements to help maximize Oxygen-dependent performance (under ‘threshold’), which is important at altitude.  Ensure you have used both appropriately in training prior to Leadville and make sure you take care of all the (CHEAPER) basics first, such as fueling, sleep, mobility and bike skills.  A special tip is to try to stay lower then Leadville the week off. There are many cool towns at slightly lower elevation and I think it is worth getting better sleep, with a few rides in Leadville vs. Being in Leadville all week.

Want to re-energize- Unplug, put airplane mode on, and immerse in nature's finest.

Eat Enough, But Not Too Much

Minimize the digestive work your stomach has to do. Save that energy for pedaling. Many athletes make the mistake of eating too many solids and overwhelming their stomachs with foods/fuel that they have not game played over distances, at specific intensities and/or while not at altitude. We may not be able to test/Game Play any or all of these, BUT we can take notes from experienced athletes and the averages. Generally, focus on more liquid sources of calories at 2-300kcal/hr.

Maltodextrin-based mixes/gels seem to be most digestible, possibly with some fructose or simple sugar. Solids earlier in the race are used by some to break up the fueling strategy and avoid overloading on a certain sugar or component. Many distance athletes (e.g. RAAM and 24 hour Solo) will use products like Ensure to get a digestible calorie source; at Leadville, having an Ensure at top or bottom of Columbine could work well. I have also always liked Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) and typically will ride/race with them in my bottles with some electrolyte to help with energy and focus.

As always, you should be practicing race day nutrition long before your race. ( Nutrition basics with The Bike Skills Project here ) 

peter evan flat fix by Karlee on Gridley Pratt Ojai 2014

Hone Your Mechanical Skill

Many a race is ruined, if not lost, based on little fixes on the trail. You should be able to take your bike apart on the course and reassemble. Make a list and start practicing. A good and patient local coach or friend should be able to help you through sticking points.  Bike Skills Projects on Mechanics HERE 

musette bag issue at leadville

Do. Not. Stop.

It is very important that, within reason, we never go 0 km/hr. Leadville and many similar races are about average speed. Keep rolling steady. You should not stop in the feed-zone, or to eat or to transition to a hike-a-bike. Situations may arise, such as nature breaks (although some may find ways to do this one bike) but generally, try to plan and train for minimal stops to preserve that goal pace.  The feed bag pickup is a place I messed up in 2011 and actually fell (so pro!)

… Again, these are the little things we forget when out doing 4 hours hard, and a couple Game-Plays with the feed bag could have saved me minutes, if not gotten me a podium spot.  Bike Skills Projects on Dismounts / Mounts.

Pacing is Imperative

While on our bikes, we can add benefit to our training by making sure we learn what a sustainable pace is and how to hold it over varying terrain. I believe HR is still relevant to optimal pace even at altitude, but we also need to use our brains and experiences to inform when it is time to go or if HR won’t be used on a given day. My goal during my 2011 prep at sea level was to see my pace on hilly terrain (Miles/HR) come up to 1 mile faster/hour then my goal Leadville pace (14.7mph for ~7hrs over 103mi ).   ( Posts from Smart Athlete / Train With Peter on Pacing )

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 7.24.09 PM.png

Be Able to Function Off Your Bike and Avoid Cramps/Tightness/Back Pain

Be able to walk/hike uphill efficiently and dismount/remount easily, even uphill. Walking can be optimal pacing strategy. Be efficient in mount/dismount and walking/jogging. Avoid getting stopped at zero miles per hour pace. Plan spots you will likely walk (top of Columbine and power-line on the return for many). Have a daily mobility practice including standing often and walking a ton (i.e. on breaks at work and before-after meals). Bike fit and mobility are big causes of time off-bike so make sure these items are very well Game Played before the race. ( Smart Athlete Posts on Mobility ) ( Also check out the MobilityWod on Youtube)

aerotuck for leadville 2010

Maximize Aerodynamics, Position, Efficiency

Leadville is a mountain bike race but a lot of time can be saved by drafting and having a reasonable position on the bike (that you can pedal well in). Looking to optimize clothing (i.e. no garbage bag coats) and spend some time on the road in an aero position of some type (narrow hand position and maybe forearms on the bar). Elite Leadville times are becoming so fast that much effort is put into Aero (see 2016 winner’s bike/gear here) There are many sites out there proving being aero is worth thinking about, such as here. Recently, a bike company tested hair styles and found that braided hair was more efficient than a bun or ponytail and also found some interesting gains from shaved legs and arms (but not face!). So there are some little wins you can get for low cost or a bit of skill practice.

While these concepts may sound basic and optimistic at times, I do believe that there is a ton of time to be gained for almost anyone looking at Leadville and similar races without even touching on fitness. We want to maximize the work we can do (fitness) and minimize the work we have to do with preparation, planning, health, nutrition, and equipment creating our best performance on THE big day.

I would love to hear your feedback on these ideas, any questions they might spark or suggestions on ways to squeeze every last second out of your next big Endurance Race.


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Question Via Email – Fueling Before, During, After

Before Rides and Races:

Stick to your normal. Don’t eat to excess the day or morning before.

Leave 2-3 hours before the race without eating and use 16-20/oz of water per hour and 200-300kcal / hour (divide into bottles and/or laps as needed)

(for me) I will add more rice and less veggies then I usually eat and generally less meat. Most people can/should just eat what they normally do. Especially for shorter races like Ocups. Excessive ‘carbo-loading’ is not generally recommended for most people. What is more key is that you don’t go too long without food on day prior especially after training. (recovery snack and fueling in workout + regular meals/snacks)
*watching fiber/spicey foods is a good idea.

During The Rides/Races

Doing what you do every key workout. Game-play your pre-ride meal daily, especially for key workouts.

Most people do some sort of sandwich or oatmeal/cereal. Carbs and a bit of protein is general recommendation. Again not a ton of food just enough to top up.

I do not use different things in my bottles as it complicates things for the feeder. I will generally do sea salt and water, often with BCAA.

I use mostly gel in a Hammer Flask for fueling for all but longest races. (>4 hours) . I rarely use bars or mix in races. . Separating fueling from hydration lets me drink more water if hot but not affect my fueling schedule and also I can use my water to douse myself if hot or my drivetrain if very muddy.

Many people use a carb solution (like Hammer HEED or Accelerade) … if doing this I would likely just put all the fuel you need and skip gels but you might do a mid race top up with caffeine or a ‘gel on the line’ within 15min of start.

If fading in races is an issue (ie. long races > 2 hours) then fueling may need to be increased (kcal/hours) .

After Rides/Races

Aim to eat within 30min. Most people do not need any magic potions or vitamins just eat something.

If training/racing later that day or the next day or you are very busy with podiums and/or shuttling kids around then a product like Recoverite or a smoothie with Whey protein may be a good solution.

More Reading and Watching:

-> Bike Skills project on fueling –
-> If you need Hammer product use ‘Glassford15’ at shophammer and get it delivered to your door at 15% off! **
-> How I Fueled My Long Weekend Game-Play for Transylvania Epic
-> Faster at Leadville without any extra training ->


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Easy ‪#‎Matcha‬ tea with a ‪#‎coffee‬ press plunger

Easy ‪#‎Matcha‬ tea with a ‪#‎coffee‬ press plunger !

  •  hot water in bottom , matcha powder on top … plunge making sure plunger gets just above level of water. Longer you plunge the better. Turn the Press top so less likely to get matcha green on your white counters . Carefully remove plunger to poor so get more foam.

Is the Paleo Diet a Fad ? Warinner Ted Talk

Debunking the Paleo Diet: Christina Warinner at TEDxOU (feb 2013)

I have had several emails, comments and jokes made about the below video and also the new book with a similar topic: Paleofantasy: . The questions and comments come from 2 types of people. The first are looking for reasons that paleo/ancestral diet is wrong to justify their approach and the second group are those who have tried the approach are upset that they could be eating cookies, regardless of their experience with the approach.

*The PaleoFantasy is discussed well in several places including here, and hereand here so I will not discuss further
** Mat Lalonde is really good at looking at the evidence for all things health and nutrition, this is a link to his interview on Chris Kresser’s Podcast (includes written transcript)

I will discuss my thoughts below the quick summary and embedded video below.

Main Takeaway from Ted talk: There is no one correct diet , we need diversity and need to eat fresh/whole/local foods

Ideas presented by Christina *my wording/order

1) Current foods are modified (farmed) or didn’t exist/have changed so they are not paleolithic     

Today’s Foods are GMO, selectively bred, bigger, different, not local 

2) There were many ‘true‘ paleo diets . seasonal and specific to what is available. 

3) Paleo Ancestors did consume grains/legumes/tubers (dental analysis) – tools allowed for processing. Corn ,soy and wheat are large percentage of what we eat.

4) we use preservatives, artificial flavors vs. foods that preserve naturally 

salt, smoke, pickle etc to inhibit bacterial growth . Fermenting important  

we do not know consequence of eating foods with no bacteria, with flavors/preservatives

7) We are supposed to eat whole foods. Foods not a sum of calories/macros. The whole package is important (fiber etc.) 

8) Eating processed foods leads to over-consumption (ie. 1 soda = 8.5 ft of sugarcane) 


My Thoughts
So after watching the video and/or reading my summary it becomes fairly clear that Warinner is actually pointing out more reasons that a whole foods approach makes sense. Her criticisms are all generally good. The idea that we should do exactly what our ancestors did is ridiculous and not the reason anyone should do something(*the caveman did it argument was the original basis for the paleo diet*). There was variety in the paleolithic diets, but many commonalities as well. There were foods that could not be eaten then that we can eat without problem now due to cooking/preparation method and there are people that will tolerate certain things better then others.

What this ‘evolutionary’ approach does provide is a starting point, which Robb Wolf discusses frequently via a 30day trial/elimination. The idea is to try something for 30 days then assess if it improves any issues or general well being (sleep, energy, emotions, digestion etc.). If Quinoa is something you feel adds to your life and you feel better with it then without it then there is no reason not to eat it and there should be no remorse about ‘not being paleo’. This Ted Talk recommends this same theme of eating whole foods while removing allergens (grains, legumes, dairy) and processed food.

There are a few ideas missing from this talk and many discussions of nutrition. There are many variables outside of diet including stress, activity, age, disease state. Everyone knows someone who eats what they like, is skinny, energetic, sleeps well and enjoys live (hint: they likely don’t care whether paleo diet is good or bad). These people mind their business, are rarely stressed, enjoy where they are (being present) . That is to say, if someone is able to go with the flow they experience lower stress and any dietary ‘imperfections’ are not as big a deal.

Where I believe we can make improvements in our health by moving towards the social groups, play (as Mark Sisson discusses), reasonable sleep patterns and activity/inactivity patterns looking more like our great great-grandparents. Actually seeing people face-face, playing a game, walking together, enjoying a sunset and avoiding sitting for extended periods all seem pretty reasonable and healthy.  Nutrition is important but it is just food. Keep food simple .


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Smart Athlete in the news and in the blog-o-sphere

Check out these articles that have been written about or featuring Smart Athlete in the last few WeeksDirk Sorenson on Leadville and how one might change their approach after several years at an event. Ideas on doing it self coached and with a coach. Some great tips from Dirk, check out his site.

Lady Lean on How traditional Low Carb and Paleo Ideas might fit into Endurance Training and Health.

Canadian Cyclist on Integrating a Paleo / Evolutionary Framework into an Endurance Cyclist’s Training.


Canadian Cycling Mag. Interview about Paleo Template in Endurance Athletes ( They would have great tempura)

    I finally found the article that Canadian Cycling Mag and Cheryl Madinger put together from an interview we did in the fall on the art of being Paleo while being an Elite Endurance Athlete. I have had several compliments from it and even a few  people who were inspired to give it a try, so super job and many thanks to C.C.Mag for letting me spout off about sweet potatoes and other kooky things.


    For clarity/disclosure/addendum, I personally use Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Magnesium at the moment (not fish oil or Vit D), I am not positive what I said on the phone so will call my bad on that. I avoid Gluten from all sources. I use white rice and organic corn occasionally if we are out for Mexican or sushi but mostly just to supplement carbohydrate when training load is high and 10+ sweet potatoes is too much. During rides I use maltodextrin based powders/gels for intense and/or long rides as well as BCAA and sea salt/electrolytes, the occasional ‘Jenny’s Macaroon’ finds its way into ride food as well. I consume limited Nuts/seeds and fruit  but this is not to say they are bad or to be avoided by everyone everyday.   Most people, on most days will get enough calories from a more normal paleo template (meat + veggies + fruit + good fats) .  The message that you do not have to be perfect and that everyone’s ‘template’ will be different was/is my primary message and this was captured well in the article.

Please let me know if I can help you in your journey or if the article sparks any questions/ideas.

  **follow me on twitter – If I can get 30 more followers I will begin tweeting and sharing ideas to help you up your paleo and/or endurance game **

Going paleo

By Cheryl Madliger – Published February 1, 2013

If your choice for pre-race nutrition tends to be linguine or rigatoni, Peter Glassford’s nutritional approach might shock you. The Collingwood, Ont.-based cycling coach and Trek Canada Mountain Bike Race Team member uses an ancestral diet omitting grains, dairy and legumes to fuel himself and his athletes. Extreme or not, Glassford’s diet is working for him. He is the Canadian record holder at the Leadville 100 and the 2012 Ontario provincial crosscountry champion. His approach to nutrition is based on the Paleo diet. It’s something cycling coach Joe Friel often recommends. In The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Friel and co-author Loren Cordain, the original expert on the Paleo diet, explain things simply.
“The essential dietary principles of The Paleo Diet for Athletes are straightforward: you can eat as much lean meat, poultry, seafood, fresh fruit and veggies as you like,” the book says. “Foods that are not part of the modernday Paleolithic fare include cereal grains, dairy products, high-glycemic fruits and vegetables, legumes, alcohol, salty foods, fatty meats, refined sugars, and nearly all processed foods.”
As Glassford explains it, the approach is about maximizing nutrition, which in turn maximizes performance. “The Paleo diet is basically the use of an evolutionary framework to establish an optimal diet and lifestyle for an individual, starting with the most nutrient dense and non-problematic foods. Start thinking about your food in terms of nutrient density,” he says. “What do you get for each calorie?”
Grains, dairy and legumes – which some suggest we’re not fully adapted to – are considered problematic. They’re also less nutrient dense than foods emphasized in the Paleo diet, making them less optimal choices. For example, rather than a pouring a meat sauce over bed of pasta, someone following the Paleo diet might add it to abowl of veggies, such as spaghetti squash or zucchini. According to Nicole Springle, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Toronto, the Paleo diet is growing in popularity. Springle admits, however, that without grains, legumes or dairy, meeting nutrient requirements could be challenging, but not impossible. “You can satisfy dietary requirements without these foods, but it requires careful planning and supplementation,” she says. “Most individuals don’t realize the amount of careful selection of food required to meet their dietary needs.”
(read more at Canadian Cycling Mag)


The big this is, (Mullholland-Stunt-Tuna Canyon-Los Flores-Piuma Big Day)

I am out doing this right route through the Santa Monica Mountains now … it really sucks 😉
DJ Adam Morka and Tv pushing the pace with me for the 5-6 hr adventure, should be around 2400m ascent and 150-160km (all this is said while knocking on wood)
Ride Fueled by my Best Cauliflour Pizza Ever .

Fabulous Finger Foods (Karlee Makes us Coconut Macaroons!)

Karlee ( new Trek Canada team mate and house mate here in Cali) has a blog and also madd cooking steeze that the Lord Earl Grey (TayNeezy) and I have been exploiting

Taylor seems to get most of the goodies and their problematic proteins keep me out of them BUT a few Paleo Pete Friendly treats did make it through to support rides and general tasty times.

Recipe is basically:
= Best quality Coconut you can find, health food store likely best to avoid additives
= Your choice of sweetener or no sweetener. Honey, maple syrup etc.
* I love this recipe because you can add more egg and no sweetener and you have a good travel food (carbs are the enemy and so-forth)
= Eggs
= Real Vanilla

Technique (which I lack in the baking department)
= Key seemed to be a vigorous mixing technique to really get things mixed up well