While sports nutrition is very important in most sports, one family of sport that needs to understand and work on their nutrition better than the rest are the endurance athletes. We’re talking about long-distance runners, triathletes and trail runners to name a few.
While other athletes can stop and grab their nutrients in between rest period, endurance athletes are constantly on the go. Not only does this increase their energy output, it also means the amount of fuel they carry may have a direct effect on their performance – carry too many fuels and you’ll slow down. This means that an endurance nutrition plan before race must be properly strategized beforehand, or the athlete may risk performing poorly.
Here are five ways a solid nutrition strategy will help you the endurance athlete improve in your performance.
A Solid Nutrition Strategy Helps You Hit Your Goals
You join an endurance event with a goal in mind. Some of you will look at competing for a position, while others just want to do their very best to complete their race or beat their previous timing.
Understanding what your goal will help you and your coach determine your training plan, which will be useful when we look at how nutrition will come in. Should you use fats or carbohydrates? When should you eat them? How about recovery? Once your goal is in place, your nutrition considerations will be too!
A Solid Nutrition Strategy Maintains Your Energy Needs
Due to the huge amount of energy you can potentially expand as an endurance athlete, eating enough to refuel is sometimes difficult to achieve. However, the lack of it whether during training or competition can be detrimental to your performance.
Not eating enough may affect your performance during training and cause you to lose the performance benefit you were supposed to achieve during training. You may also not recover adequately, which affects how much your body will be able to improve.
The lack of energy during competition will also affect how well you will be able to move. Being unable to tap into the right energy source at critical point may cause you to slow down.
A Solid Nutrition Strategy Considers Your Before, During and After Workout
Fuelling your body is an art. Your goal, energy requirement, training intensity and duration will all play a part into how you plan your nutrition strategy. Eat too much and you might have excess unused energy. Unexpanded energy will become fats and therefore reduce your running abilities. However, eat too little and you’ll be unable to perform either.
For long-distance athletes, the choice of fuel may also affect how your gut reacts to it. While it’s not well understood yet, there has been a prevalence of gastrointestinal (eg. nausea) complains in the long-distance sports, mainly from the triathlon and running sports. While you may not be able to fully solve it, putting certain strategies into place might be helpful to reduce or manage the issue.
A Solid Nutrition Strategy Meets Your Hydration Needs
Sweat rates increase when heart rate, exercise intensity and/or core temperature increases. When sweat rate becomes high, you may risk becoming dehydrated faster. A loss of fluid from your body of more than 2% of body mass may cause performance to reduced.
A solid hydration plan can help you regulate your core temperature to maintain performance, which can also be very important to help you stay strong during a tough race.
A Solid Nutrition Strategy Only Considers The Supplements You Need
A solid nutrition plan usually prioritizes food over supplements. This help you the athlete reduce cost.