All Kurma Blog

June 10, 2019

Dates to Fuel Endurance Training and Racing Part.1


Whether you're into Cycling, Running, Triathlon or other Endurance Sports; how to fuel your training and recover from it, is as critical as the training itself: Under-fueling workouts or neglecting recovery could heavily compromise their quality and their much sought-after fitness reward. As importantly, how to fuel a race can make or break your big day.

Few weeks ago, I raced Bromo KOM Challenge as my 2019 Q1 Priority bike race, one of the biggest and toughest in Indonesia; and after dedicating dozens of hours planning and training for it, finishing on its Overall Masters' podium exceeded my most optimistic target.
I'll use it as a case to address the questions I received about using dates in my Training and Racing. Enjoy reading!

Why Dates?

Since ancient civilizations, men subsisted on this fruit for thousands of years
As an Endurance athlete, dates have always been a big part of my day-to-day diet
As a Coach, they have also been a fuel I recommend to my athletes as part of a balanced diet
Answering Why could be a long list, but in our context, these are the TOP 3 "Endurance food" criteria dates comply with:


  1. Macronutrients Content:
    There is a consensus in Sport and Nutrition Science that carbohydrates (CHO) are the predominant fuel for working muscles, their availability is critical to physical activity quality, fitness and performance.
    With ~75% Carbs per serving, dates are a powerhouse of ready-to-use energy to fuel exercise
  2. Micronutrients Content:
    Rich in minerals (Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, Potassium) and several vitamins (B3, B5, B6)
  3. Practicality and Portability:
    Their size and texture qualify them to easily carry and readily consume in long rides and runs




Dates to Fuel Workouts

A. Fuel or Not?
Fueling Endurance workouts is guided by both their duration and intensity
This is the guideline I use for my training sessions and my athletes':


B. How Much?
As our bodies' glycogen stores deplete during exercise, performance is enhanced by Carbs intake to fuel the energetic demands of working muscles. While research defines a wide range of 30-90 gr/hour, how much you require within that range depends on the energy demands themselves (intensity and duration), the level of glycogen depletion before the session, ... etc.

I personally determine that as part of a personalized fueling strategy for each type of session depending on the above. But here are some practical guidelines:

Type Deglet Noor Medjool Dates Syrup
Serving Size 5 Dates, pitted (35 gr) 1 Date, pitted (24 gr) 1 Tbsp (15 ml)
Carbohydrates  26.5 18  16 
Sugars 22 16 13
Dietary Fiber 3 1.6 0
Source Link Link Link


C. Fueling Examples

Training for Bromo KOM Challenge involved 154h of quality cycling and dozens of sessions; keeping a Nutrition log that records intake in every session will make sure they're properly hydrated and fueled; an excerpt from mine: