Want to ride like Marianne Vos? The most decorated women's cyclist of all time talked to ACTIVE.com about how she fuels, what she rides, when she works out and why she races. Read on and you'll be achieving souplesse in no time.
ACTIVE.com: Do women cyclists need to fuel differently than male cyclists?
Marianne Vos: Men have a really high metabolism, much higher than women, so women have to be a bit more efficient with food, with their intake [on the bike]. Of course, iron can be different because we have our periods, and it can drop during this time, but otherwise, there are not real big differences. For me, what I see now more and more is that people try to get rid of carbohydrates. But carbohydrates and glycogen are energy, that's fuel for the body. That's something you need—of course you don't need to overdo it—but don't get rid of all the carbohydrates because then you'll get low on energy, and you'll miss out on power and acceleration. If you stop eating, or if you stop fueling with carbohydrates, you can get so efficient that the body can't convert fuel to energy; it can only restore what it is lacking. So just go out on the bike, don't overdo it and eat when necessary.
ACTIVE.com: What kind of workouts do you do off the bike?
MV: Core stability is the thing I really feel helps me. I don't do too much power training because I have the ability to build muscle quite fast. That's interesting for a sprinter but not really for an "all-arounder," so I have to watch out for being too muscular. I like to keep the souplesse [the French term for a perfectly efficient, yet powerful pedal stroke] instead of full power. [Core stability] is especially important in the winter, but I try to keep it up in the summer, too, to keep the body in balance. On the bike you only push: You're seated, you have six places for your hands and feet, so there's a lot of muscle that you don't use, and if you train it, you can be a lot more efficient.
ACTIVE.com: Do you have a favorite pre-ride meal?
MV: Normally before a race or a tough training ride, I like to have yogurt and fruit with some muesli or oatmeal. After a race, with all the sugar I've taken in, I'm always craving a sandwich. Just ham and cheese or salmon or something, a good sandwich, something a bit more salty instead of all the sweet.
ACTIVE.com: What is the cycling accessory you can't live without?
MV: I can miss a lot, actually. There's been a lot of changes like the power meter or navigation on the bike, and these are all really nice—but sometimes I like to just go out and get lost, not have any information about how many watts I push or how fast I go, and just go out and enjoy the area and look around. For me there has to be balance, and then I find it easier to do strict trainings the next day.