Even a small increase in activity can result in unusual aches, increased hunger or general feelings of fatigue. Your body needs time to adjust to the extra effort expended. Excellent nutrition while training for endurance events is key! It can mean the difference between a successful race, and a bust.
Dialing In Endurance Nutrition
There is a specific set of nutritional requirements that must be met if you are to get what you need for daily training, endurance training, race day and recovery. This is where a sports nutritionist comes into play. The goal is to get you to race day lean, fit and ready to go. Every calorie becomes critical, and every nutrient must be addressed.
You need to eat enough to power your muscles through your training, and to provide the nutrients needed for repairs after your workouts. We recommend seeking the help of a dietitian to dial in nutrition – it will be well worth the cost!
Why Is Nutrition So Important?
Energy is stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen (storage carbohydrate). If adequately topped off pre-exercise or race, glycogen stores will fuel you for about 2 hours – after that it’s up to you to replace what has been lost. Or else? You hit the wall, or bonk.
Determining a fueling and hydration plan that best fits your needs and maximizes your performance can be complicated – let an expert help you! Include a nutritionist on your team. Endurance nutrition is a critical component in achieving your goals.
We offer in-house nutrition services at Destination Kona. Our sports dietitian has a master’s degree in nutrition and works with a variety of different clients. Visit www.dktristore.com to learn more about Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching.
Have you ever flipped over a food or drink package to see a laundry list of ingredients contained in that item? Some ingredients are familiar, others are completely foreign. Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil? Acetylated monoglycerides? Our food didn’t used to contain all this junk – there was a time when food was simpler. As the processed, packaged food industry has grown… so have Americans’ waistlines. Coincidence?
My advice: pay attention to the ingredients in foods you consume and minimize fillers/preservatives. Some food companies have begun to take heed – MacroBar is a great example of this. The company’s vision:
“GoMacro believes in feeling good about what you eat. About how it tastes, how it’s made, and how it sustains the environment. That’s why we call our food, a big picture food. A wholesome, healthy food that can be good…and do good at the same time. After all, food, no matter how small, can leave a very big impact.”
MacroBars contain <10 ingredients (some as low as 4!), are organic, gluten free, environmentally sustainable, and taste incredible! You will definitely pay a little more for these high-quality ingredients, but isn’t it worth it when it comes to fueling your body?
Last week I chatted with a triathlete in training for several 70.3 races this year. In previous half ironman races, he had struggled with one issue in particular – significant fatigue during the run. After digging in to his nutrition plan during training and racing, I quickly learned that his main trigger to eat is hunger and his prompt to drink is thirst. Unfortunately, by the time he feels hunger and eats, it’s too late to replenish what’s been lost in order to finish the race strong!
This is common – especially among new triathletes and ESPECIALLY on race day. Sticking to a nutrition plan during long, leisurely training workouts is one thing – maintaining the same plan during all of the madness of race day is another. A multitude of obstacles can jump in the way – adrenaline, nerves, GI issues, you name it! The catch 22 – the longer the race, the more important the nutrition plan becomes.
To throw a little science in the mix:
The body’s storage form of carbohydrate is glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the muscles/liver and fuels the body during prolonged activity. After ~2 hours of strenuous exercise (triathlon racing included), nearly all stored carbohydrate is depleted. What does this mean for your longer-distance race? Yep, you’re going to BONK if you don’t get some carbs back in the body.
Relying on hunger or thirst to fuel your race day is just not reliable. The solution is simple, yet complex: develop a plan. Seek the expertise of a sports dietitian. Test the plan during long training workouts. Re-vise the plan. Test again.
The right nutrition plan can mean the difference between a struggle to the finish line and a strong, confident finish!
- American College of Sports Medicine, Sawka, M. et al. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand: Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(2),377-390.
- Jeukendrup, A. (2011). Nutrition for endurance sports: Marathon, triathlon, and road cycling. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2011, 1-9.
- McArdle, W, Katch, F, Katch, V (2009). Sports and Exercise Nutrition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.