Late last year, we noticed a certain Dave Brailsford pop up on Strava, and not only does the Team Sky GM share his rides but also plenty of insightful tips and info in the comments section.
From sharing photos of himself on marshalling duties at local cycling events in his native Derbyshire to candid snaps of Team Sky's training rides, it's great to see how much Sir Dave gives back to the cycling community, and recently he's been sharing his diet and training specifics.
Here's what Brailsford says about his current fitness regime, which involves morning fasting, a mostly fat and protein-based diet and lots of low intensity riding:
“I’ve only eaten carbs from veg and had two bananas the rest of the time - so I've stuck to fat and protein only and only eaten between 11am and 8pm. I lost 3kgs but I’ve started back in the gym for the winter so will switch my diet around to higher protein and reintroduce a small amount of carbs pre and post training — and low intensity rides with torque.
"By torque I mean riding a big gear at around 50rpm, so pushing a big gear at low rpm. This is essentially strength training on the bike. I do blocks of 8-10 mins.
"Then I also back this up by doing strength work in the gym. I found that as you get over 50 one of the biggest things is to try and maintain muscle mass and strength — not a problem for all the youngsters but for us old lot it needs some work! So my winter is focussed on gaining strength and muscle mass and managing fat levels carefully.
"My low intensity is just riding at a relatively easy effort level, the reason being that the lower the intensity the higher the level of fat utilisation as a fuel — the higher the intensity or harder you go the more the body relies on glycogen for its fuel. By eating very little carbs and running low glycogen stores and doing rides which predominantly burn fat, I’m trying to reduce my body fat. Just riding round slowly will lead to a loss of the ability to go hard so I need to rebuild that in due course.
"In general outside of sport there has been an increasing trend to try to reduce the total amount and frequency of digesting carbohydrates, mainly due to the fact that carbs trigger the hormone insulin which, when the body’s ability to regulate insulin properly is reduced, leads to the onset of diabetes.
"This very simply means eating no grains, bread, pasta, rice, sugary products, starchy veg like potatoes and cutting out fruit. Of course, for a young healthy active individual the best solution seems to be to eat moderate carbs and protein, fuel higher carb prior to hard intensity training days or races, then use low carb fuelling for days when it’s a slower, more general type of riding day.
"Many riders will wake up, have a black coffee and ride totally fasted also — but realistically you can only ride slowly or moderately, and if you're doing a longer ride then you’d start fuelling with carbs after 1.5-2hrs.
"My view is that the best approach is to have clear phases or blocks where we focus on one or more goals and we adopt different training and nutritional strategies to best target that particular goal, then assess and move on to the next goal.
"It seems that many people try to have one approach and try to stick to that approach. I think that’s okay but to improve and be more in tune with how our minds work then it’s better to have a plan which changes and develops over different parts of the season or year."
If you think that Brailsford's regime seems like it would take a lot of will power, it's worth noting that he's no average joe; he was a useful amateur racer back in the 80's, competing in France for around four years, before returning to the UK to study sports science, psychology and business. After a number of years working in export sales for British bike retailer Planet X, Brailsford became performance director of British Cycling in 2003, overseeing a complete revolution of the British team on the track and road with his marginal gains philosophy. His vision to create a successful British squad on the UCI World Tour became realised in 2009 and six Tour de France victories later, the rest is history.
Managing and working alongside the most well-resourced and arguably the most successful cycling team in the world has clearly paid off for the man himself, applying his own extensive knowledge and being able to call on the know-how of Team Sky experts to device his training plan, and keep incredibly fit into his 50's. We think it's fascinating to get an insight into the routine of a man with some of the most cutting-edge sports science at his disposal.... do you think Sir Dave's ideas could work for you?
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.