Preparing for the Coast to Coast
Approach to Coast To Coast
My name is Tom Newcomb and I am takingon the 2 Day Individual Coast To Coast for the first time. The Coast to Coast is such an iconic race and has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I am excited to be just a few weeks from standing on the start line looking up at those Alps. This is far and away the biggest event I’ve tackled; so I’m very much a weekend warrior.
What has struck me throughout my preparation for the event is the sheer amount of knowledge you need to accumulate to tackle the event- training plans, equipment, skills, logistics and of course nutrition.
In the spirit of multisport I thought I’d share some of what I have learnt in preparing for The Coast, and once I’ve completed the event I’ll share a bit of what worked, and what I could have improved upon.
Here some key nuggets.
Training Plan – Ok, so you’ve signed up for the race, now what? You are going to need a plan.
I was recommended a text “The Power To Perform” by Jon Ackland. The text is used at to teach the basics of sports science to tertiary students, and while a little out-dated I found it the perfect place to start. It includes a specific C2C training plan which I adapted and adopted as the back bone of my training.
I settled on an 18 week program. The first 12 weeks I have focussed on building my distance, and in the last 6 weeks I am focusing on speed. The plan includes 3 sessions of each discipline per week, so total 9 sessions. Broadly speaking, 2 sessions of eac discipline are shorter and higher intensity. The third is a longer lower intensity session. I have one rest day per week.
What I’ve learnt about my training
- Having a clear plan to achieve has been an absolute life-saver in so many respects. Breaking the challenge down week by week, session by session has lessened the sense of enormity in tackling The Coast.
- There is a real sense of achievement as you progress through the plan, it puts a huge smile on my face to cross off a session as complete and it’s rewarding to look back on how far I’ve come.
- Planning the week ahead ie exactly which session when and where takes away a huge amount of hassle. Just follow the plan and you’ll be right
Some key training nuggets I’ve learnt
- Specificity is key. This is race legend Steve Gurney’s key message. Train for the specific terrain and conditions you expect to come across. Given I live in Auckland I cannot get into the Southern Alps, however I have adapted the plan to my local area. For example, going for a road run is of little use in preparing for the rock running I’ll experience up the Deception River to Goat Pass. Rather, I train on the seawall rocks at Westhaven or at low tide around Takapuna. Brick sessions are also really important ie. bike to run simulation.
- Fatigue. At some point in your training you are going to hit a wall, either physically or mentally. For me this was linked to the biggest volume weeks or when the weather was no good. I learnt that on the occasions when you were well and truly spent it was better to rest rather than risk injury. The key phrase here is “well and truly”- don’t skip a session because your mates are going fishing.
- Variation. Build lots of variation into your plan to keep it interesting. I really enjoyed planning lots of different routes and seeing new things. I was amazed at the new and interesting places that I saw throughout my training within the city limits, particularly on the bike and kayak.
- And fit your training around your life, not your life around your training.
Coming into the race I knew little other than the basics of nutrition and my major concern was that I didn’t want to waste away to nothing over the course of the 18 weeks. My initial plan was to just eat heaps. A friend identified that I may need to develop a little more sophistication towards my nutrition and suggested Trailblazer Nutrition. After my first few conversations with Tom at Trailblazer I was struck by the fact I had put so much thought into my training plan, but not my nutrition.
At a basic level, I was on the right track with eating heaps, as long as I ate a variety of food throughout the day and especially around training; I was unlikely to waste away. The biggest thing I learnt however was that by focusing on my nutrition during training, my training sessions were of higher quality. I was able to work harder, recover faster, and get more bang for my buck out of the time I spent training. I was spending all this time training; I may as well ensure that I am getting the best value from it.
Tom talked me through how much carbs I should be aiming for per hour, about 70-80g, and then I identified key sessions, their duration, and we planned my food and drink for those sessions to ensure that I could train at my maximum during these sessions. Because I have been tweaking the type and amount of food and drink I have over the last month or so, my race day plan is 90% sorted and I know that I will tolerate it as I have been using those foods during training.
Some key Nutrition nuggets I’ve learnt
- The importance of pre- training fuel. Most of my training was done first thing and as the miles built up I quickly learnt that I’d have to eat before heading out. I found that a breakfast smoothie was the best option to get nutrients on board quickly first thing in the morning. The smoothie would set me up for a good 60mins of training before needing to take on more fuel.
- Volume. I was amazed at how much food I could put away. I’ve always been a big eater but this was something else. My intake peaked at about weeks 5 through 10 in the program as the body was adapting to the new workload. Two lunches became the norm! Interestingly I’ve sensed another adaptation in recent weeks and I don’t seem need quite as much as I did.
- Value. In order to feed the machine there is an urge to jump at the quickest and easiest meal option, which is often not the most valuable food source. Rather than going for cheap carbs I tried to go for high quality protein as a snack wherever possible. Fresh dairy (particularly yoghurt), eggs and nuts were my go to. At meal time I focussed on lean red meat, fish and vegetables. I really rekindled my love for the humble roast potato.
I hope that you all got some value out of the above ramblings. It represents some of the best things I’ve learnt along the way preparing for this epic adventure. The race is only a fortnight away and I am in taper mode, with only a light week of trainging to go. There is much preparation to omplete.
In my post-raceupdate I’ll be able to enlighten you on the race experience, with a particular focus on the nutrition aspects.
I’m in awe of this race and all that it is teaching me. I’d implore anyone thinking about entering to “just do it”. To anyone reading this who has entered; Good Luck, and see you out on the course.a