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Total Daily Energy Expenditure and You

A new study sheds light on TDEE, optimal fruit and veg, and unexpected causes of running injuries


Good morning everyone,

My month-long training period here in Arizona has come to a close. It ended up being a huge fitness boost for myself and for the entire gang we were with. A few of the athletes including my wife are racing this weekend, so I’ll be closing up shop here. This means emptying the fridge - not hard with training camp hunger - and making sure I don’t forget anything important.

There is definitely no turning around after a 13-hour drive home!

In today’s edition: 

  • 🍝 Why you need to understand total daily energy expenditure.

  • 🤕 The overlooked factors in running injuries.

  • 🍅 And, are you getting enough fruits and veggies?

Thanks for being here,

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 


Why Understanding Total Daily Energy Expend Expenditure Could Help You Nail Your Next Race

Dr. Jeffrey Sankoff is an emergency room physician, triathlete, coach, and host of the TriDoc podcast. He breaks down the latest in multisport science to help keep you educated, healthy, and fast!

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has recently been ridden, Milan San Remo is only a couple of weeks away and soon after that the Oceanside 70.3 will inaugurate the North American 70.3 racing season. All of that can only mean that spring is very much in the air at long last!

With all the excitement of the warming weather and the chance to finally get outdoors to train on a regular basis, we can begin to turn our thoughts to some of the big events on the calendar, and for fans of cycling like me, that includes the grand tours; the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. 

These three-week events are the pinnacle of cycling and have long been viewed as the epitome of human endurance performance as well. One of the reasons for this relates to the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) put out by the professional cyclists who participate.

While studies have shown that well trained triathletes participating in an Ironman event can expend around 7000-8300 kcal over 12 hours equivalent to around 8-9 times their basal metabolic rate (BMR) this rate is not sustainable over time.

  • In fact, in studies of ultra-long-distance events, athletes TDEE decreases with time such that as the duration of the event increases the TDEE decreases to a more sustainable 3-4 times BMR.

However, previous studies of professional cyclists in the Tour de France showed that they were able to sustain similar rates of TDEE for the entire duration of the event. This puts professional cyclists’ metabolic loads on par with those of “migratory birds whose type of exercise is considered the most metabolically costly form of sustained activity of all animals”.

A recent paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology reported on a case study wherein researchers looked at a question that many of us age group athletes often wonder about;

Is it possible for a mere mortal to complete the Tour de France route in the same time frame and if so, what would it take?

The short answer: Age groupers can do amazing things but professional cyclists are on a whole different level.

Read the rest of the article and learn:

  • How they conducted this unique test

  • The surprising (and empowering) results

  • How these study results apply to you!


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👏 Ryf retires: If there was a Mt. Rushmore of accomplished triathletes, Daniela Ryf (SUI) would certainly be on it. The five-time IRONMAN World Champion announced she will be retiring at the end of this season. [Daniela Ryf]

🍅 Optimal fruit and veg: Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? It’s not always easy to tell. But this article gives great guidelines on athlete fruit and veggie consumption, and how to seamlessly fit them into your training. [Fuelin]

🤕 Running injury causes: Running injuries happen. And often it can be hard to understand exactly why. This infographic is a great guide to holistically understanding running injuries and potential outside-the-box causes! [YLM Sports Science]

🏝️ Kona for all: Can anybody (in theory) qualify for Kona? It’s a great question, and some very thought-provoking answers can be found in this Reddit thread. [Reddit]


Tempo subscriber Kelsey Myers is currently in the thick of completing a world record of 6 triathlons on 6 continents in 6 days. Go Kelsey!


#nosleeptilmalibu #worldrecordattempt #6triathlonson6continentsin6days


A quick scare: This triathlete CEO never thought he’d need heart surgery, but a rare heart defect stopped him in his tracks. But in true triathlete fashion, he ran a marathon shortly after life-saving surgery. [CBS Dallas]

Subic Bay stars: Triathletes of all abilities are gearing up for the My Daily Collagen Triathlon in Subic Bay. [Phil Star]

Windsor Triathlon: Organizers are expecting around 700 participants for the annual Windsor Triathlon. And they’re ready to unveil a new presenting sponsor. [Hampshire Chronicle]


Tempo readers had a lot to say about whether they thought there was a drafting problem in triathlon!

Reader: At a pro level there are some dodgy (to the eye admittedly) looking pace lines but in the AG racing it is frankly ridiculous. And I understand very hard to police well but, when the moto comes up to the group you're sat 12m behind and ahead of you is a nice little TTT, and they just ride on past and dish out no penalties, there is clearly a problem with the refereeing of it. Does that impact me? A little as I'm in or around the top end of my AG in many races. But nonetheless, my sense of fairness and rule following means I am definitely angry in the moment (and have been known to comment in a passive aggressive way as I ride past!).

Reader: Clickbait (and mostly untrue) email title. And, from AG perspective, who gives a f.... As long as there are 2000+ people on the startline, there will be huge amount of drafting. One would need 20+km of road to strung out 2000 people. Even on small scale events there is a lot of drafting. And it completely ruins the experience for the "honest" ones.

Reader: It is a problem, especially in bigger races on flat courses. It always makes me mad when people act like they're not drafting if they don't get penalized. Like they're not speeding if a cop doesn't pull them over.

Reader: If all 2,000-3,000 bikes in an Ironman race were lined up with the minimum allowed space between them, they would extend for miles. It isn't realistic to expect athletes to maintain the required distance given the number of bikes on the course; especially for multi-loop courses that allow athletes on their first loop to mix with athletes on their 2nd or 3rd loop. I can accept this technology if it only applies to professional athletes because there is prize money involved, but not for age-groupers. If Ironman is more concerned about drafting than they are about revenue, they'll put a cap on the number of athletes allowed in a race based on how congested the bike course could be.

Reader: It's all about the CASH, it's participants. this devise will help the fast guys but disappoint the slow one where the bulk ($$ and ppl) will be, especially on double loop courses in Europe and for the ladies. The penalty tend will be the size of a ballroom. Lastly how many referreds' bikes do you need to enforce or how many will you DQ after the race and the data is downloaded to the referees' computers? I worry in the spirit of fairness we kill the sport.

Reader: While the stakes might be higher at the pointy end of the race where most of the pros ride, the traffic jams are a few miles back, and it's practically impossible to string out participants into equally spaced boxes with space for slower swimmers (aren't we all?) to move through... legally. Double wide lanes (4-lane divided highways?) with one side closed to traffic? Who wants to ride that nightmare of a course? But a single lane... or course open to traffic... is a different kind of nightmare, for EMTs, draft marshals and participants alike.

Reader: It varies, but yes, I think there is a big problem. I´ve seen pelotons at many events, incl Ironman. Having said that, there should be draft-legal zones on climbs because it´s difficult to maintain the distance between bikes and the gain is minimal. Better policing of drafting would also make it fairer between age-groups. I´m an older woman. we often start last and we´re slower, so we have fewer opportunities to draft.

Reader: I have several thoughts on this. Yes, I think at the fast end of age group racing there seem to be draft packs. I don't see it being as big of a problem middle and back of the pack. While yes, there is still drafting, it's more so because the cyclists struggle much harder to get in and out of the draft zones. People can be lined up for several hundred meters in some of the races and it is near impossible to get in and out of all the draft zones. Yet the refs always like to find an example or 2 to show that they're doing their jobs in a fair manner across all participants. For a sport that continues to struggle to grow, finding reasons to discourage the slower racers seems like the wrong approach.


IRONMAN New Zealand

Women’s race: After a disappointing 6th place at last year’s IRONMAN World Championships, Chelsea Sodaro (USA) raced with a serious point to prove leading after T1 and never looking back. Even with a serious lead heading onto the run she did not let up and finished with a 2:49:59 marathon 🤯

  • Els Visser (NED) took second, and Jocelyn McCauley (USA) finished in third in what was an incredibly tight battle with only 45 seconds between them.

  • Unfortunately, Tempo subscriber Rebecca Clarke (NZ) pulled out pre-race due to Covid. We’re sending our best to her!

Men’s race: Pre-race favourite Braden Currie (NZ) pulled out on race morning due to illness which left the door wide open for the rest of the field. And after almost eight hours of head-to-head racing, Steve McKenna (AUS) was able to break Niek Heldoorn (NED) and break the tape in Taupo.

  • Ben Hamilton (AUS) finished comfortably in third.


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