27 weeks to go: Our meeting with a Nutritionist

Tom here, so this week has been a busy one for me and it’s the last week off the ‘Off Season’ for me. This week I’ve been to two charity events with work, done one of my fitness tests and met with our newest sponsor, Olly Howarth, a cycling nutritionist and all round top bloke.

Olly has agreed to become a sponsor for RAAM providing us advice on nutrition in training, the lead up to the race and the race itself. This is something that is incredibly important to us.

This brings me onto the subject of nutrition and weight management, specifically the “importance” of weight which is a difficult subject in cycling and especially ultra endurance. So, after speaking to Olly he has roughly told us that we should be eating around 4,000 calories a day when training, especially when we are completing multiple sessions in a day, like 3 hours on the bike and then an hour in the gym to maintain a healthy weight. That’s just to maintain your weight, not put on weight – we’re just breaking even.

I know that personally, my ideal weight is around 72kg, as someone who is almost 6ft this is still pretty light. I know I have taken my weight obsession too far in the past, with my lowest weight being around 62kg. I had just been accepted onto a world-class development squad at Newcastle University, started training lots, not eating properly and started drinking sparkling water instead of eating after training. It took me a year of bad results, getting constantly ill and taking a year off the bike to really realise that I’d taken it too far. Meeting Olly and speaking openly about nutrition has been amazing – essentially being told eat what you want, drink protein shakes, snack, have hot chocolates is incredibly liberating.

Interestingly, the best ultra-athletes don’t look like the Chris Froome’s of the world, they almost resemble sprinters, not world tour cyclists, even though they are doing nearly double the distance of a grand tour in half the time.

There is a brilliant video that highlights this. At the end of the day, the way I look at it, I know I’m going to be more much more powerful being heavier, being stronger and being more robust.



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