As a sports nutritionist, I have been very blessed to work with individual athletes from different background. 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 5 ways a solid nutrition strategy will help you the endurance athlete improve in your performance.
A Solid Nutrition Strategies 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 Strategies Maintains Your Energy Needs
Due to the huge amount of energy you can potentially produce as an endurance athlete, eating enough to refuel is sometimes difficult to achieve. However, endurance sports require energy, and the lack of energy 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 recovery 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 and being unable to tap into the right energy source at critical point may cause you to slow down.
A Solid Nutrition Strategies Considers Your Pre, During and Post Workouts
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, becoming fats and therefore reducing your running abilities. However, eat too little and you’ll be unable to perform either.
For the 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 complaints 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 increases in the presence of increasing heart rate, exercise intensity and/or core temperature. When sweat rate becomes high, you may risk becoming dehydrated faster, and a loss of fluid from your body of more than 2% body mass may cause performance to reduce.
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
These days, nobody talk about nutrition without talking about supplementation. However, that can also be where the problem is. A solid nutrition plan usually starts with a food-first basis, and then add supplements into the picture only when needed. Not only will this help you the athlete reduce cost, it also help you focus on what you need to improve your performance.